The 2019 Hastings High School musical, Grease, was a tour de force-a powerful production, showcasing a multi-talented cast of 80-100 singers, dancers, musicians and stage-hands. Congratulations to one and all for an energetic, and entertaining musical. The story illustrates the challenges of navigating adolescence and finding one’s place in the world. It raises lots of issues that should become good points of discussion around school and at home.

From my point of view, as a medical person, I would throw out some words to the young, that are not new, but are worth repeating.

Cigarettes and nicotine products will not make you more cool, but they will make you addicted to a life-long contribution of more than $2,000 per year to your favorite tobacco company. Smoking or vaping tobacco products will harm your lungs inevitably.

Alcohol still kills tens of thousands of people on the roads every year. It remains a dangerous drug, which may be used responsibly by adults, but not recreationally by teenagers.

The newly legalized cannabis smokes and edibles in our neighboring state of Colorado cannot be considered safer. Smoke or vapors of any chemical in your lungs will prove harmful. Colorado and other states with similar laws are finding reduced learning skills and doubled rates of schizophrenia in users of these “allegedly safe” products.

No one really knows the composition, concentration or potency of any of these products. Buying or trying them is a total crapshoot.

But more worrisome is the synthetic opioid, fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine, and is abundant in supply from Mexico and China.

A few grains mixed with any drug sold on the street can be lethal in minutes. The lesson to take home is that experimentation with any drug can be extremely dangerous.

The sexual themes of “Grease” may be quite provocative. Our youth need to remember that the only truly safe sex is with a long-term monogamous uninfected partner. It is OK, actually wise, to wait for the right person.

There are still serious sexually-transmitted diseases out there that have not gone away, which can be fatal, or can cost you $30,000-50,000 per year the rest of your life to treat, or try to prevent.

One of the strong themes of “Grease” is peer pressure. As a parent and grandparent I have always advised the ‘11th Commandment: “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”

It follows the well-known Ten in Exodus 23:2. My daughter related an incident in high school when a classmate friend stopped by to see her at our house.

He offered her some pills of “Ecstasy” claiming it would make her feel “really good.” She declined saying she preferred to reach for natural highs in life.

I am so grateful for the D.A.R.E. program that challenged students to “Just say No” to drugs.

If everyone got that message and did it, the illegal drug market would dry up.

Thank you to all who contributed to “Grease,” and for giving us much to think about.


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