Local high-schoolers attend national leadership conference

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Three Vicksburg teens attended the National Underage Drinking Training Center’s 10th Annual Leadership Conference, and one said it was an eye-opener.

“The whole thing was good,” said Mary Quinn DeRossette, a senior at Vicksburg High School. “One of the classes we went to was called ‘Message in the Music,’ and it broke down rap songs and told us what they meant. That was just crazy to see what all was in the songs.”

Mary Quinn, the daughter of Tim and Lucy DeRossette; Warren Central junior Laura Benson, the daughter of Susan Benson; and St. Aloysius sophomore Victoria Mekus, the daughter of Mike and Patty Mekus, attended the conference as part of a local group, the What Up Wit Dat? Teen Coalition for a Drug-Free Warren County, which combats underage drinking. Mary Quinn is president of the coalition. Patty Mekus is director of Drug Free Communities, which oversees What Up Wit Dat?

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For information

What Up Wit Dat? coalition – www.drugfreevicksburg.org or 601-630-6602.

The conference, held Aug. 21-23 in Nashville, drew more than 1,700 law enforcement officials, community advocates and teens from across the country and featured workshops as well as a night during which the teens helped local police conduct random compliance checks at liquor and convenience stores. The youths served as undercover decoys who were attempting to purchase alcohol.

Mary Quinn, as well as Laura and Victoria, who were unavailable to comment on the conference, were selected to attend the event because they are leaders in the coalition and their schools, said Patty Mekus. “They’re all committed to being drug and alcohol free and showing Vicksburg that there are other ways to have a good time.”

The What Up Wit Dat? coalition began five years ago and has about 40 members.

“I just thought this was a good opportunity to give back to the community,” said Mary Quinn. “I just want to show everybody that you don’t have to drink to be cool.”