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Southbridge Evening News
By Kevin Flanders

Tantasqua Regional Junior High School eighth graders found themselves face to face with Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis on Friday June 1.

Since the beginning of the school year, Evangelidis has presented his “Face2Face” drug and alcohol prevention and education program twice a week to middle school and high school students throughout the region. He is committed to personally communicating his message to every school district in his jurisdiction, and he has already met with over 22,000 students in Worcester County communities.

Friday’s Face2Face program allowed more than 200 TRJHS students to learn about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Evangelidis’ unique presentation combines cutting edge technology and special computer software to simulate the effects substance abuse can have on a person’s appearance over time. Using this technology, students were able to get a firsthand glimpse at the negative impacts drug use could have on their classmates.

“As sheriff, I always enjoy spending time in the Tantasqua Regional School District meeting with students,” Evangelidis said. “I especially enjoyed meeting with over 300 eighth grade students today for my final Face2Face presentation of the school year to discuss the enormous consequences and devastating effects of substance abuse. With almost ninety percent of the inmates today at the Worcester County House of Correction addicted to drugs or alcohol, I have focused on education and prevention as the best way to keep our youth from starting on that direct path to prison.”

As the only sheriff in the country presenting this program, Evangelidis takes great pride in being able to speak to as many students as he does.

“I look forward to visiting even more school districts next year with the Face2Face Program, he said.

TRJHS students and staff were grateful to Evangelidis for taking time out of his schedule to come to the school and speak with them.

“We truly appreciate Sheriff Evangelidis meeting with our students today with the Face2Face Program. The sheriff’s presentation was by far the most powerful drug prevention program we have ever had at Tantasqua Regional Junior High School, and the feedback from today’s assembly from both our students and faculty has been tremendous,” said TRJHS health education director Jamie Armin. “We are extremely fortunate in Worcester County to have a sheriff who is so concerned about the wellbeing of our youth, and we look forward to having Sheriff Evangelidis back every year with his Face2Face program.”

The Face2Face program was donated by individuals and businesses who are dedicated to the county’s youth. It is an eye-opening program for students that not only serves as an educational tool but also a warning that drug and alcohol use will likely land you face to face with law enforcement.

“Face2Face is an effective and innovative drug prevention program designed to make students think twice before making that bad choice to begin drug and alcohol use,” Evangelidis said.

TRJHS principal Chris Starczewski was impressed by how interesting yet informative the presentation was.

“It was probably about an house in length but it seemed like ten minutes. He gave a very engaging and active presentation that focused on many of the elements in our health curriculum,” Starczewski said. “We try to emphasize the importance of good decision making if students find themselves in a situation where drugs or alcohol are offered.”