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The June Buchanan School was privileged to have Penny Whipps as a guest speaker from JUST1x (Just One Time). Whipps came to the school to address the issue of rising drug use among teens. Her heartbreaking story of her son Kyle’s accidental heroin overdose inspires students of every age and background to realize that it just takes one time for one’s life to be lost forever.

Whipps captured the students’ attention when she said, “Kyle could have been any one of you in this class.” Her son had attended a private elementary school and went on to a public high school. She talked about how his life was one of an average teen — he had a girlfriend, he spent time with friends, and he went to concerts. In short, Kyle was an all-American teen. As she addressed the students, Whipps showed a video montage of her own experiences on Kyle’s 22nd birthday, which included the 911 call made at Kyle’s death and a series of friends who wished they would have spoken up. This portion of the presentation was very effective, because it made it clear that drugs can affect anyone.

Continuing on, Whipps mentioned that one reason Kyle’s friends felt that they could not speak up was because they feared Kyle would be angry at them for creating a confrontation. As she lovingly expressed the difference between selfish love and the protective love of friends, Whipps urged students to speak up and break the code of silence.  Reflecting on the JUST1x program, JBS student Megan Hall said, “Ms. Whipps came across with a powerful message!” Another student, Tyra Lamb, stated, “It can happen to any one of us. I feel she’s right, you can be easily influenced by your peers.”

The guest speaker finished off her comments by revealing that the leading drugs affecting teens in the US are prescription drugs and heroin. Whipps said, “If you remember JUST1x, then it was worth it.” Afterwards, Stacy Fraley, an 8th Grade student, said, “What really stood out to me is that she said, ‘If you’ll just speak up.’ I want to speak up when the time comes!” Hunter Hylton said it all by affirming that “no one wants to die at a young age, especially not from drugs.”

You can share in the students’ experience by watching the video “Regrets of a Friend.”

To find out more information on how to schedule a speaker for your school, please visit