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Victim Impact Panel awards scholarships to area grads

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry The 2020 recipients of the Warren County Victim Impact Panel scholarships are, from left, Lindsay Finch (Eisenhower High School), Naomi Hahn (Warren Area High School), Amber Evans (Youngsville High School), and Chyann Rose (Sheffield Area High School). Not pictured is Kelsey Nuttall (Tidioute Community Charter School).

Sometimes, the Warren County Victim Impact Panel works against driving under the influence by talking to offenders about how drunk driving changed their lives.

At other times, the organization works toward its mission “to save lives and make our highways safer” by rewarding youth who have the right ideas.

For over 15 years, the VIP has encouraged Warren County youth to better themselves and further their educations.

On Tuesday, the organization awarded $500 scholarships to five members of the Class of 2020 from Warren County.

“Each student had to submit an essay on the peer pressures of underage drinking and how they deal with it,” VIP Coordinator Kim Tome said.

The members of the VIP read each essay and choose one student’s from each high school in the county.

“It’s hard to select winners,” Tome, who collects the essays and presents them to the panel without any names, does not vote on the essays, said. “The students are very open and honest about their experiences and we appreciate that. We hope everyone who applies knows that we are proud of them for making good decisions.”

Receiving scholarships on Tuesday were: Amber Evans of Youngsville High School; Lindsay Finch of Eisenhower High School; Naomi Hahn of Warren Area High School; Kelsey Nuttall of Tidioute Community Charter School; and Chyann Rose of Sheffield Area High School.

“Panel members hope that by sharing their real-life experiences of pain and suffering, it will make someone think twice about driving under the influence,” according to the pamphlet. “By being a part of our organization, victims have a sense of knowing that they are helping to make a difference with this very preventable crime.”

The students presented some options to giving in to peer pressure — providing alternative activities to the risky ones proposed — and some tactics for fighting it, like considering what could happen.

“Being a teenager is harder than ever in today’s society. The rise of social media provides us with 24-hour images of what is deemed to be cool. Unfortunately, many of those images are of teens engaging in poor choices.”

“The high school atmosphere generally consists of a vast group of individuals worried less about their education and more about status.”

“Personally, if I have a feeling things might lead to drinking, I recommend going for a walk or talking about what’s going on in life.”

“Peer pressure is a big factor in whether a person will participate in risky behaviors or not.”

“In today’s world, drinking looks glamorous and like the normal thing to do. Many teens believe refusing a drink makes them look bad in the group, but it really doesn’t.”

“Think ahead on how to deal with peer pressure before you arrive at a party, and go with your gut. If something does not feel right, you do not have to go along with it.”

“It is honestly heartbreaking to sit back and watch kids that you have grown up with fall into the lies and corruption of societal pressure. Following in the footsteps of drug and alcohol users has left many of my classmates in purposeless lives, as they work simply to feed their addictions.”

“If you’ve made if clear to the people you are hanging out with that you do not want to drink, then they should respect your decision and not bother you about it. However, if they keep asking you and tell you that you are being lame, then they do not respect your choices. You do not have to follow the crowd. Instead, you can create your own self and not engage in activities that can ultimately ruin your life.”

“I am choosing to walk the road less followed. I do not let the negativity from others deter my lifestyle for the simple fact that I enjoy my life as it is.”

“Always focus on your future goals and plans. If can be easy during the adolescent years for students to think that adulthood is far off in the future. There is a whole future beyond the four years of high school that all students should be preparing for.”

“It is so important to be fully aware of the life you are living because you will never get another one.”

“Choose your friends carefully. Good friends will not push you to do something that you are not comfortable with, and they can help you resist negative pressures and have your back when you need it.”

“By standing up to peer pressure, we can achieve so much. When you decide to give in to peer pressure, a consequence usually follows. That consequence can turn into heartache and lost memories that time can never heal.”

“Knowing not to drink is the easy part. Saying no to people who are pressuring you into doing it is the hard part.”

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