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SCHOOLS PROGRAM TO FIGHT DRUG ABUSE FALLS TO PRESENT FIRST STUDENT-ATHLETE DAY SATURDAY

About 220 students from the Niagara Falls School District will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday in the city's first Student-Athlete Day -- an event designed to address drug abuse.

Ralph Penale, curriculum coordinator for health, physical education and athletics, said the event is geared for participants in winter sports -- basketball, wrestling, bowling, swimming and cheerleading. It is mandatory for all athletes in the seventh through 12th grades. "We feel it's a social issue that is affecting our whole country," he said. "Our student-athletes have chosen a route . . . that will involve them in a lot of outside activities."

The three-hour program in the LaSalle Senior High School cafeteria and the school's auditorium will feature an audiovisual presentation by Robert Ames, an employee of the Lockport School District who has conducted similar seminars in the Lockport and Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda districts.

"Students learn a lot through athletics -- cooperation and teamwork," Penale said. "We want to supply them with an educational experience that will be with them throughout their life."

The program also will feature district counselor Harry Powell, who will talk about the importance of grades, the Scholastic Aptitude Test and socialization. Superintendent William L. Sdao will speak on the role of the student-athlete in an educational setting.

Penale said two more meetings are planned, with one tentatively scheduled for May.

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