This is the time of year when students from all over Central New York would normally sign up to compete in the annual Drug Quiz show, a staple for local school children since 1985.
Over the years, nearly 500,000 middle-schooler participated in the annual contests.
For the first time, there will be no competition this year because the program has run out of money, said Susan Meidenbauer, who served as the program’s executive director.
Valerie Stedman, health teacher at Christian Brothers Academy in DeWitt, said she’s had kids asking her about signing up for the quiz show.
“It’s been breaking my heart to tell them we can’t do it this year,” she said “It will absolutely be missed. It was an opportunity to learn important information, and also become involved in an activity that promotes team work, and shows kids how to navigate through different levels of competition.”
At CBA, the entire seventh-grade and most eight-graders participated in the annual contest.
The competition show started in Central New York at the suggestion of a Jamesville-DeWitt student, and then expanded to 200 schools in 24 regions throughout New York state.
About 6,500 Onondaga County students from 40 middle schools participated in the quiz show, which tested students’ knowledge of drug abuse, alcohol and tobacco. Another 2,000 or so took part in Madison and Oswego counties.
In 2010, the show lost its sponsor, Rite Aid, but collected enough money to continue through March 2012. The show needs $120,000 to operate, and had raised about $40,000 from fundraising and donations, Meidenbauer said. That kept the program going through the county level competition, but the regional and state contests were canceled.
“I’m devastated about it,” Meidenbauer said.
Stedman said her students have been discussing how they could keep the contest going at the school level, but haven’t worked anything out yet.
Fay’s Drugs, a drug store chain based in Central New York, sponsored the competition when it started in 1990, and in 1997, Eckerd took over sponsorship when it was merged with Fay’s Drugs. When Rite Aid purchased Eckerd in 2007, it became the sponsor.
The show taught kids about alcohol, tobacco and drugs, but also dealt with topics like stress, making good decisions, handling conflicts, building self-esteem and more. In the past couple of years, bullying and gambling were added.
“I’d love to figure out a way to make this program come back,” Meidenbauer said.
Elizabeth Doran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 470-3012.