National Guard targets county Agency hopes to start drug, alcohol program at middle, high schools; Could begin in September


The Maryland National Guard wants to spread its anti-drug and alcohol efforts in Carroll County, implementing a prevention program at the high schools and beginning an after-school program for at-risk middle-school children, officials say.

The effort, which could begin in September, is contingent on receiving a federal grant and the approval of Carroll County school officials, said Lt. Col. Robert L. Finn, who works for the National Guard's director of military support to civil authorities.

The program for high schools would be offered in each grade to supplement teachers' efforts to combat abuse of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, Finn said.

The middle-school program, called ABOUT FACE, would be similar to one in Florida.

A modified version of the program has been used for two years at Fallstaff and Garrison middle schools in Baltimore and at Deep Creek and Stemmers Run middle schools in Baltimore County, said Brig. Gen. Larry McBee, project director.

McBee met yesterday with Rolland Kiracofe, principal of Northwest Middle School in Taneytown, to make a pitch for beginning ABOUT FACE there in September.

"I was very impressed with the program," said Kiracofe, who plans to ask next week that the school's Improvement Team committee recommend adopting it.

The programs in Maryland cost about $80,000 annually for each jurisdiction, McBee said. With 75 percent of the cost paid by federal Justice Department grants, the Maryland National Guard enlists private and community support for the remaining portion. It would be free to schools and student participants, he said.

ABOUT FACE would be open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. three days a week from September to June, McBee said. Paid and volunteer staff members would offer participants an hour of homework support; an hour devoted to topics such as violence, drugs, peer pressure or teen sex; and an hour of group recreation.

Military weekends

The program also would take participants to Camp Fretterd Military Reservation in Reisterstown six weekends each academic year, challenging students to experience a military environment and use what they have learned after school in real-life situations, McBee said.

The program also would transport parents of participants on Saturdays to Camp Fretterd, where they could observe and interact with the children and learn about such topics as conflict resolution and anger management, McBee said.

Parent participation has been about 75 percent, the same as daily attendance by the students in the voluntary program -- figures McBee calls "very encouraging."

Participants might also spend a week during the summer at Camp Fretterd. "That's our chance to reinforce what has been taught throughout the school year," he said.

'Providing resources'

That the National Guard is devoting attention to Carroll County is not surprising. McBee and Finn live there.

Finn, a former trooper at the Westminster barracks of the Maryland State Police, said the National Guard became involved in the fight against drug abuse in the late 1980s.

"We have been providing resources to assist state and federal agencies in getting drug dealers off the street," he said.

The decision to join Carroll's war on drugs was an easy one, said Finn, who has known Jerry F. Barnes, the county prosecutor, since their military days in Vietnam.

"I don't know who brought it up first, but we got together and were soon helping support the state's attorney's anti-heroin efforts and offering posters and bumper stickers for his school prevention program," Finn said.

Pub Date: 5/07/98

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