LHS participates in annual Operation Snowball trip

Snowball%2C+an+annual+trip+for+some+LHS+students%2C+is+held+at+a+drug+and+alcohol+prevention+camp+and+encourages+students+to+have+fun+and+meet+new+people+from+Barrington+and+Vernon+Hills+High+Schools.+%0A

Photo by Sam Nelson

Snowball, an annual trip for some LHS students, is held at a drug and alcohol prevention camp and encourages students to have fun and meet new people from Barrington and Vernon Hills High Schools.

Abbey Humbert, Staff Writer

Starting in 1977, Operation Snowball formed through the youth and adults of Rockford who attended The Illinois Teenage Institute on Substance Abuse. This group saw it as their duty to create a message to prevent drug and alcohol usage.

Operation Snowball’s mission is clearly stated: “Through the development of leadership skills, Operation Snowball shall be a youth and adult partnership, providing awareness and prevention of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use, while encouraging healthy decision-making in an active community of caring.”

This year, students from Libertyville, Vernon Hills and Barrington High Schools attended Snowball on Feb. 9. It was held at a camp about an hour away from Libertyville, just past the state border, in Burlington, Wisconsin.

LHS students have been attending Snowball with this same group of schools for the past 13 years. Prior to that, LHS went without these schools by their side.

While at Snowball, “the general format is to get teens and adults talking about issues of relevance to the lives of teenagers. Sometimes it has very much a prevention focus in the sense of kids’ lives tends to go better and on track when they are avoiding underage drinking,” said Dr. Brenda Nelson, Prevention and Wellness Coordinator at LHS.

The day was composed of small-group sessions, large-groups sessions, workshops and outdoor team building.

“It’s about embracing the diversity people have and their thoughts and their actions. Getting to have fun, letting go, being you weird, authentic self,” expressed student leader and coordinator Liz Stevens.

This year was the first year that Stevens attended Snowball. She has been working to bring prevention projects to LHS alongside Dr. Nelson. As a coordinator, Stevens’s job was to direct leaders and their groups throughout the day.

Every year at Snowball is a little bit the same and a little bit different. But never before had a Snowball alumnus come back to lead the day.

Joey Gallagher graduated from Barrington High School in 2010 and attended Snowball three out of his four years. Right out of college, he did Teach for America, a program where teachers go through intensive training to be sent to impoverished areas and impoverished schools of America to make a difference in the lives of students.

Gallagher led the day by giving the keynote speech, running workshops and doing the closing message.

“I remember valuing the opportunity to meet and interact with my peers who attended different high schools,” exclaimed Gallagher over email. “While each school had its differences, we all had the shared experience of knowing what it was like to attend a rigorous suburban high school.”.