Mandan News

Area SADD groups start local conference

By Hannah Johnson
Lee News

Middle school Students Against Destructive Decisions members cannot attend the state convention, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of options.

At least, not anymore.

On Tuesday, middle and high school SADD members in Bismarck and Mandan gathered at the National Guard Armory for a day of workshops and speakers.

The local conference was put together by the Century High School SADD chapter. It’s the first time it’s been done, but organizers are hoping it will become an annual event.

The idea came from the desire to get middle school SADD members more involved, said Century SADD adviser Laurie Foerderer.

As of now, only students in grades 9-12 are able to attend the state SADD convention. With this local conference, all SADD students could be involved.

“I know that there’s a lot of middle schoolers who want to be involved and don’t get to be and they want to so much,” said Jessica Paul, a Century senior and SADD member who helped plan the event.

The daylong conference’s theme was “Be a Superhero.” Many of the students dressed the part – Superman and Batman shirts and costumes were popular. There was even one particularly enterprising student masquerading as “Mr. Potassium,” dressed in a banana costume.

The conference featured a number of speakers including Bismarck Superintendent Tamara Uselman, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Judge Gail Hagerty, former Century student and SADD member Jacob Sommerfeld and Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley.

The students split up between speakers to attend various workshops that covered topics like e-cigarettes, drugs, and qualities of being a superhero.

“They love it,” said Horizon Middle School SADD adviser Kenyon Wingenbach. “Every workshop, every speaker has a message.”

This event is a chance to build enthusiasm for the organization, especially in younger members, Paul said.

SADD is a serious organization, she said, but “we can still have fun.”

The students themselves seemed to be having a great time.

“Great speakers!” said Abby Fitzgerald, a sixth-grader at Horizon.

Fellow Horzion sixth-grader Tyler Evenson said they had learned a lot.
“We learned that e-cigarettes …”

“… Are still bad,” another sixth-grader, Kayla Seime, cut in.

“And kids could buy that,” Evenson added.

Even if they can’t go to the state convention quite yet, these students are in it for the long haul.

Horizon seventh-grader Katie Graner said she and her friends had made a pact to stick with it. She’s excited not only to be able to go to the state convention soon, but hopes to be able to attend the national one as well.

“It’s motivating,” Foerderer said. “It’s powerful to them.”