By Deirdre C. Mays
CHARLESTON — Bob Anastas didn’t give students at Bishop England High School a chance to think twice about what it takes to succeed in this life; his message is an in your face pep talk about being a winner.
Anastas is the founder of Students Against Drunk Driving and “Check in to a Winning Life,” a program designed to motivate high school students on how to avoid underage drinking and drug use, and make the best of themselves. He spoke at Bishop England Sept. 7 as part of a public service effort for schools in the area by Pearlstine Distributors, Inc.
In two different sessions, one for students and then one for parents and teachers, Anastas addressed the key life skills of self-esteem, self-image, motivation, maturity and leadership. He also challenges students by telling them, if they chose to be in that 25 percent of students who strive to be their best, who are hungry for success, they can get into any college they choose.
“I tell them, the hungry kids are your competition,” he said.
He promotes four keys to success: 1. Run when others walk —keep your body in shape and always look the best you can.
2. Sleep when others party — you’ll be a success because you’re going to wake up in the morning well-rested and ready to go.
3. Take your weakness and make it your strength. Practice when others rest.
4. Keep your body under control at all times. Stay drug and alcohol free.
Anastas is an educator, author lecturer, counselor and coach all rolled up into on. Sitting in on his program is akin to gathering in the locker room before a big game. In his talk, he asked students if they thought drinking and driving is a good idea. When they answered no, he asked them why they are still dying.
He urges parents and children to sign a contract. In it, the teen-ager agrees to call for advice or transportation at any hour, from any place if they are ever faced with a situation in which a driver has been drinking or using drugs. Parents agree to go get their child or pay for a taxi, ask no questions and make no arguments. They will discuss it a later time.
“This contract says, my love for you and your love for me has to make you overcome anything that challenges that love,” Anastas explained. “My goal is to make sure no more high schools in this country have a page in their yearbook dedicated to kids who have died in a drunk driving accident.”
Terry Williamson has a 17-year-old daughter at Bishop England. She said they talk about topics like this as situations arise. Nita Rushton wondered if her son is in that 25 percentile. “We talk about the facts and that it’s against the law,” she said. “It’s hard for them to see. They don’t think ahead.”
“We talk to our kids about being a community. Those are empty words unless we do it,” said Principal David Held. He thinks the students heard loud and clear and appreciated Anastas’s very direct approach.
“His statement about the yearbook is something I’ll take with me for a long time,” he said. “I have been here six years, and it hasn’t happened yet. God has just been good. We will make the pledge sheets available to students and parents.”
The school plans other antidrinking and antidrug campaigns around activities during the school year.
“I want kids to know there is no reason to die, no reason to fall into a death trap,” Anastas said. “I make it a challenge. I tell teen-agers, ‘don’t be led by others.’ It becomes degrading.”