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Leadership pilot program to fight student-athlete substance abuse

Honor the Code the first program of its kind in the country

Skaneateles participants in the new Honor the Code pilot program, from left, Athletic Director Stacey Tice, and 2011-12 seniors Erin Tonzi and Bryce Kerr.

Skaneateles participants in the new Honor the Code pilot program, from left, Athletic Director Stacey Tice, and 2011-12 seniors Erin Tonzi and Bryce Kerr. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— A cadre of athletic directors and student athletes from four area school districts – including Skaneateles – last week held the inaugural meeting for a new pilot program created to fight substance abuse among student athletes.

The Honor the Code program seeks to choose and empower student leaders who will, while working with district athletic directors and other administrators, encourage other student athletes in their schools to eschew drug and alcohol use in their daily lives, and especially during sports seasons.

“This program has been in the works for several years to think about how we can help teenagers and support them in making better decisions about their lives,” said program coordinator Philip Rose of the Prevention Network at the Aug. 23 meeting in the Skaneateles District Office conference room.

Representatives (one athletic director and two students) from Skaneateles, Marcellus, LaFayette and Onondaga districts participated in the two-hour meeting to lay the groundwork for the pilot program and discuss implementation during the coming school year.

Athletic Director Stacey Tice and 2011-12 seniors Bryce Kerr and Erin Tonzi represented Skaneateles at the meeting and will be part of the program for the entire school year.

No program like this has ever before been tried anywhere in the country, Rose said. “We’re going to make this road as we go,” he told the meeting. “We’re looking for ideas, and yes we’ll bumble some things, some things won’t work, but we’re in this together.”

The main idea behind the program is that every school has an athletic code that forbids student athletes from drinking and doing drugs. These codes must be signed by athletes in order for them to play school sports.

But most students don’t really read the code, they simply sign the form so they can play, Rose said, and he was echoed by most of the students present that that indeed is what happens.

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