A Logan County high school student is taking what he’s learned and sharing it with others to create a better community.
Matthew Dingess is a 16-year-old sophomore at Chapmanville Regional High School. For the past two summers, he’s attended the West Virginia State Police Junior Trooper Academy. That’s where he learned about the dangers of drinking and driving, drugs and bullying. He wants to pass on that knowledge.
“It’s becoming more and more drug, tobacco and alcohol-oriented,” Dingess said of his community when he spoke with MetroNews Wednesday. “I just want to let my fellow classmates know not to do that kind of stuff because we don’t want our community to be known as a bad community.”
He knew he couldn’t reach out to everyone on his own, so Dingess enlisted some help. He got in touch with two troopers he befriended at the Jr. Trooper Academy and then talked with the administration at his school about offering a series of programs to address issues teens face every day.
Everyone got on board and starting Thursday Chapmanville Regional High School will feature special classes once a week for six weeks on a topic that’s timely. The first session is on drinking and driving. Dingess contacted MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to make the presentation.
“After my classmates see [how alcohol] has corrupted and ruined peoples lives, I hope they will take note of that,” Dingess said.
Also on tap to speak during the series is a State Trooper who handles meth lab cases, the teen group RAZE who deliver an anti-tobacco message, a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and an expert on bullying.
Dingess has high hopes for the program.
“I’d like to see classmates that do drugs and alcohol, let this touch their lives and maybe keep them from being the next person who goes out and drinks and drives and crashes and dies in a car wreck or goes and gets killed from getting high,” Dingess explained.
Schools leaders say Dingess is a great example to other teens on how to get involved and make a difference.