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Alcohol class targets students

National awareness campaign focuses on abstinence, life skills

Steamboat Springs police Officer Kurtis Luster speaks to students at Steamboat Springs High School on Thursday about the behavioral warning signs of overly intoxicated partygoers during the TIPS University alcohol awareness class.
Brian Ray

— A national alcohol awareness class usually taught to college freshmen about the dangers of alcohol abuse and how to better handle alcohol-related problems hit the hallways of Steamboat Springs High School on Thursday.

A group of law enforcement officers, substance abuse prevention professionals and Colorado Mountain College personnel taught the class – TIPS University – to a group of about 100 seniors while the rest of the student body was either in testing or at a finance seminar.

TIPS University, which stands for Training for Intervention Procedures, is a two-hour program that uses videos, role-playing activities and a test booklet to educate and help students make good choices when faced with alcohol-related decisions.



Principal Mike Knezevich said he was glad to take two hours from the seniors’ schedules to present the material, especially since the seniors are gearing up for spring break, prom and graduation.

“This is the perfect time for this type of education because this group is moving on and getting ready to move out of high school,” he said. “As freshmen in college or in their adult lives, they’ll be faced with underage drinking. Unfortunately, part of the message is how to handle those situations responsibly.”



Deb Funston, a Steamboat Springs police officer and school resource officer, said the TIPS program usually is associated with restaurant and bar servers, who are required to take the class by the Steamboat Springs City Council. The police department, officials with Grand Futures Prevention Coalition and Colorado Mountain College attended a TIPS training to teach the course to adults but decided to modify the program for high school students.

“The kids that grow up here are faced with a culture that promotes drinking,” Funston said. “We teach our kids from kindergarten to 12th grade not to drink, but we never teach them the life and personal skills they need to handle those situations.”

Colleen Lyon, Routt County director for Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, agreed that educating the graduating seniors about making smart decisions for the future is a piece of curriculum that often isn’t broached in public schools.

“There is a very strong abstinence message, but there are also components about how to realize when you’ve had too much to drink, how to help a friend who has had too much to drink,” Lyon said. “It’s all about the life skills they’ll need in the future.”

Grand Futures is a community-based substance abuse prevention coalition organization in Northwest Colorado that provides education, training and research services in Routt, Grand and Moffat counties.

The TIPS training the officers and other staff received was funded through a $43,000 federal grant the police department received in December to help curb underage drinking. In addition to teaching TIPS University, the police department has conducted shoulder-tapping investigations and alcohol compliance checks during the past three months to help curtail drinking among teens.

-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com


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