Online alcohol education course receives mixed reviews

AlcoholEdu, an online course to teach students about the consequences and risks of underage drinking, has received both positive and negative reactions from members of the Carmel High School community.

Alcohol education has always been a main focus in Health class and is currently being taught by Leigh Cambra, but the online course provided by the company Everfi has only been implemented into the curriculum the past few school years.

“When it first came about, I was involved,” says Cambra, regarding her connection with the online course. “But since it has been implemented, I’ve had no participation.”

She also mentions the evidence backing up the credibility and effectiveness of the program, adding, “The research shows that AlcoholEdu is one of the more effective ways to decrease the amount of consumption of alcohol.”

John Ellison, the president of the Carmel Unified School District board, speaks of the CHS drinking statistics as a way to measure how effective the programs are.

“Our numbers in California Healthy Kids Survey aren’t where we would like them to be, but they certainly are not out of line with other similar communities,” Ellison says. “AlcoholEdu is just one piece of the issue. It isn’t intended to be comprehensive.”

According to the Healthy Kids Survey which is taken biennially by select grades in the Carmel Unified School District, the amount of alcohol consumed by minors has lowered over past years.

In the 2014-2015 school year, 19 percent of freshmen at Carmel High have consumed more than a full glass of alcohol in their lifetime, the graphs show. In juniors, that percentage escalated to a total of 59 percent.

Although the numbers presented are relatively high, there is a heavy drop from the previous survey taken in 2012-2013, where freshmen came in at 31 percent and juniors at 69 percent.

However, among current students, many express their discontent with the online course. Some believe that the information given in both health class and online have already been covered, and it seems to act as more of a formality than a learning opportunity.

“I think it is helpful as far as the facts of underage drinking, but it doesn’t provide you with all necessary information,” freshman Miles Prekoski says.

Freshman Nate Blakely reports that he didn’t learn anything new from the course and voices the belief that it still doesn’t stop anyone from making the decision to drink.

Blakely adds, “Alcohol Edu could be good, but it is ultimately up to the person to choose what they’re going to do.”

As Ellison also suggested, a variety of students believe that there should be alternative methods to learning alcohol safety.

“I don’t really think it gives you the type of advice that you would need in a situation in high school. It’s unrealistic,” Carmel freshman Sarah Movahedi responds. “I know how to handle myself in situations like that, but I think it is good to have a way of getting the message out to the kids that don’t have the same support at home.”

These concerns have already been addressed by the school board. Though there are faults in the program, Ellison notes, AlcoholEdu is certainly helpful to students.

“I don’t think anyone course is going to solve the issue, but it is important that there is an educational piece,” Ellison comments.

Due to the speculation and feedback from the students, it is unsure exactly how reliable the drinking statistics from CHS are, since the power is ultimately given to each student to be honest about their own experiences.

-Ellah Foster