Say it Straight Up!

SAY IT STRAIGHT UP - Writing Contest

Winners, Age 12-17 Category

Straight Up Program Director Katherine Kasmir congratulates winner Haley Paul.
Straight Up Program Director Katherine Kasmir congratulates winner Haley Paul.

First Place Winner
Haley Paul
Think Freely and Live Clearly

Haley composed an intense and thought-provoking essay about how alcohol prevention must begin early within the family while relating some of her own experience. Her creativity and inspiration earned her First Place in the 12-17 age category.

"It was a challenge writing this essay," she says. "I wanted to explore the issues of of what our whole community can do and incorporate my personal experience at the same time."

Haley is a high school student in Ventura and will be entering the 12th grade in the fall.

Excerpt from Think Freely and Live Clearly by Haley Paul

The tragedies to strike your family as a result of alcohol may be advantages, even blessings, for they will see, unlike many others, that alcohol use is the absence of will power, the absence of any desire to prove one’s self in a dignified way. Unfortunately, those without tragic first-hand views of alcohol abuse may not realize that any use at all is the saddest decision a teenager can make... read the rest

Winner, Age 18-25 Category

Straight Up Program Director Katherine Kasmir and Contest winner Emily Arndt
Straight Up Program Director Katherine Kasmir congratulates winner Emily Arndt.

First Place Winner
Emily Arndt
To Change and Be Changed: A Reflection

Emily's essay -- a personal recollection of her experience about being a volunteer for Straight Up and her encounter with a troubled young person -- was the standout essay in the 18-25 category.

Emily appreciated the opportunity to write about her feelings. "My encounter with someone who had drug and alcohol problems really opened my eyes," says Emily. "I had no idea people like that existed. I realized what's really going on in the world. The experience made me want to make a change, especially in regards to communication with parents."

A Thousand Oaks resident, Emily recently graduated from high school, and plans to attend college in the fall.

Excerpt from To Change and Be Changed: A Reflection by Emily Arndt

Until I reached middle and high school, words like drugs and alcohol were foreign to me. I only knew them as vague and distant ideas that were unfathomable to my lifestyle. Yet as I grew up, abandoning the child-like mentality, and developing a sense of independence, I realized that these dangerous substances lurked in every corner. From the kids at school whispering about drug deals, to the parties I heard about from friends of friends, I soon began to open my eyes to the hazards these substances provided. And with such easy access, an invitation into their mysterious world seemed almost impossible to avoid... read the rest

Honorable Mentions

Shawna Swicegood, Death by Media (18-25 division)

Laura Martinez, How Drinking Affects Family (12-17 division)

Denise Galvan, Youth and Alcohol (12-17 division) 



First place winners received $100 and a variety of gifts and prizes from local attractions. Those who were honorably mentioned received a Straight Up tee-shirt and other items.


All entrants (as well as educators that participated in facilitating the contest) will be invited to an appreciation event in July. More details forthcoming.

For more information:
(805) 647-4622

Straight Up

About Straight Up: Straight Up is a youth development project that promotes social change regarding underage and binge drinking using improvisation and interactive performance and workshops with engaging discussion, exploration of issues, and the development of personal and community solutions to these problems. more

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