Lincoln’s Bayside Church Pastor Al Soto doesn’t want to focus on the negatives on why his church is spearheading the new Fifth Quarter program at Lincoln High School.
Instead, he is highlighting the positives on how Fifth Quarter events, which are chaperoned parties after home football games, will bring Lincoln residents together.
“There will be no alcohol and no drugs at the alternative place for the students after football games,” Soto said Tuesday. “Students will hang out and have fun with each other in a safe place.”
But that begs the question, are drugs and alcohol a problem with Lincoln’s youth?
“It’s a problem here, yes, especially with marijuana,” Soto said. “Kids have told me their parents smoke marijuana with their kids.”
That disturbs Soto.
“Marijuana is a gateway drug,” Soto said. “The key thing is marijuana removes ambition and we’re trying to give kids ambition and finish school.”
Soto also said some local teens are drinking alcohol.
“We’ve had a lot of problems after games with kids in regard to alcohol use and drugs,” Soto said.
Lincoln Police Chief Rex Marks echoed similar sentiments.
“Underage drinking or use of illicit drugs remains a constant concern,” Marks said Wednesday. “We see instances of it or hear about it. We deal with different programs that help deter it, such as the Shoulder Tap program designed to ensure that alcohol or tobacco products are not being sold or served to underage consumers. It’s a continuous education piece to the community. There is so much out there about the negative effects of illicit drug use or prescription-drug abuse.”
Marks views the Fifth Quarter events as another way to help combat drugs and underage drinking.
“In response to the Fifth Quarter, we support the school’s initiative to provide alternative activities that encourage a substance-free environment,” Marks said. “We look forward to a positive start to our school year.”
The first Fifth Quarter event at Lincoln High School is set for Sept. 19 after the Lincoln High home football game.
“We live in a great community. Let’s build community,” Soto said. “Our goal is to create a fun environment.”
Events will include food, games, bounce houses and showing the just-played football game on video.
Besides opening the Fifth Quarter events to all Lincoln High School students, Soto said that Lincoln City Council members and service organization members will join in the festivities as well as the school’s coaches, football players and cheerleaders.
“Everyone’s a fighting Zebra,” said Soto, who is also the high school’s defensive coordinator and special team coach.
With the first event set for next month, Bayside Church as the lead organization quickly wants to find other community members to help.
“We need people on the team to volunteer the day of and we need financial donations,” Soto said. “We want other churches to be involved and service organizations. It’s all of us together.”
Anyone interested in volunteering or donating funds to Fifth Quarter should contact Monica and Tom Arrowsmith in care of Bayside Church at 408-8810 or at Lincoln@baysideonline.com. Donations are tax-deductible.