PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – Arnold High School is hoping to prevent students from falling into a common trap.
Florida’s First Lady Casey Desantis has created a campaign called “The Facts. Your Future.” The focus of the event was to show students the consequences of a life involving the use of drugs, by someone who’s lived it.
Several people who have been through the pain of addiction urged Arnold High School students to reject drugs and alcohol.
“Let me tell you, nobody is exempt from addiction, it doesn’t matter what color you are, where you grew up, how much money you make, or how poor you are,” motivational speaker Sheldon Jernigan said. “I’m just here to share my experience, my story. Earnest Hemmingway said, experience is a brutal teacher but oh how you learn, oh how you learn.”
Jernigan said he was arrested more than 20 times and was in and out of drug treatment facilities 14 times. His first wife died from a fentanyl overdose, something he is reminded of every time he looks at their kids.
Jernigan credits his family and religion for pulling him through his addictions.
Sandon Speedling, the administrator of the Florida department of health in Bay County, has also dealt with the pain of addiction with his brother-in-law and spoke at the assembly.
“Started drinking 9th, 10th grade, and that progressed all the way through college,” Speedling said. “I remember those dances, parties, and those times in the fraternity house and you could tell the disease was progressing.”
After the powerful speeches, school officials urged parents to sit down with their children and talk about the dangers of drug abuse.
Bay District officials said they will continue to remind students of the importance of saying no to drugs.