Learning Through Their Peers: “If They Had Known”

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Led by their peers and the Student Life Team, New Hampton students dug into the risk of mixing prescription drugs and alcohol. The Tuesday night program featured a screening of the film “If They Had Known,” a documentary spoken by kids to kids about the current party culture present in many high school and college communities.

About the Documentary

The evening was especially powerful as the film was introduced to the community by current New Hampton School junior, Allie Soper. Allie’s family produced the film following the loss of her older brother, Clay. At the age of 19, Clay Soper suddenly lost his life on a typical summer evening with friends due to mixing the prescription drug Xanax with alcohol. Clay’s respiratory system and heart stopped.

"If They Had Known" is a documentary movie by kids for kids about the current teen party culture and risks.
“If They Had Known” is a documentary movie by kids for kids about the current teen party culture and risks.

Neither Clay, nor his friends, had any history of substance abuse problems; they were typical college teenagers doing what is common in today’s party culture. As such, Clay’s family and friends have embarked upon a journey to share their story and educate fellow teens. Their hope is that by telling their story, they can prevent others from making similar mistakes.

Students and Faculty Working Together

Nurse Manager Cindy Glidden and School Counselor Erika Lea opened the evening with an introduction about the significance of this topic. Students from the NHS Wellness and Safety Council, including Allie Soper ’19, then framed and introduced the film. Following the 30-minute film, students wrote down reactions and questions on index cards. Allie bravely and thoughtfully welcomed questions from her peers about the experience, the film, and all that she has learned in this process.

In order to appropriately process this emotional film, students moved into groups to engage in debrief led by student proctors and faculty.

As further follow-up, students met with their Advisors on Friday to carefully review the signs and symptoms of alcohol/drug overdose, and the do’s and don’ts of how to manage acute concerns if a friend may be in the danger zone.

Current junior Allie Soper shared her family's personal story and the importance of making thoughtful decisions as well as educating her peers.
Current junior Allie Soper shared her family’s personal story and the importance of making thoughtful decisions as well as educating her peers.

Emphasizing Education and Prevention

Student Life programming emphasizes education and prevention; therefore, School Counselor Erika Lea and Director of Student Life Scott LeBrun were eager for Allie ’19 to share the film with the NHS community when she felt ready. “I was fortunate enough to witness Allie present her story to another high school in the Fall, and I knew immediately that we needed our students to experience her powerful presentation of this film. Our students deserve to have all of the facts about this topic so that they can make informed choices in the future. The fact that Allie is one of Husky Nation’s own made the experience all the more impactful.”

Many of the comments that students wrote on their notecards echoed the refrain, “I will never forget this. This experience will be with me forever.” Students also reflected on their gratitude for Allie and the inspiration they took in her bravery.

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