- WATCH: 30-second anti-drug video stars six Hamilton middle school students


Six Hamilton Township students from Grice Middle School send an anti-drug message in their winning 30-second public service announcement to be aired across New Jersey.
Six Hamilton Township students from Grice Middle School send an anti-drug message in their winning 30-second public service announcement to be aired across New Jersey. SUBMITTED PHOTO


HAMILTON >> As the opioid overdose drug-addiction crisis wreaks havoc across the state and nation, a group of Hamilton Township School District students have done their part in sending a message of sobriety.

A new public service announcement features six Grice Middle School students performing a skit to highlight the harmful impact of substance abuse and why teenagers should avoid illicit narcotics. The students wrote the winning script as part of a statewide contest organized by the nonprofit Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.

In the 30-second public service announcement or PSA video, Grice students Regina Jannetto, Alyssa Johnson, Matthew Valyo, Meghan Krencicki, Hannah Linkowsky and Ashley Schoener reel the viewers in with performances of kid-friendly challenges before challenging viewers to stop substance abuse.

“Bottle-flip challenge? No problem,” one student says, successfully flip-tossing a half-filled bottle of water that lands upright onto a classroom desk.

“Running-man challenge? Piece of cake,” two students say upon performing the classic dance move.

“Mannequin challenge? Easy-peasy,” a student says as he and another student perform a body gesture and freeze themselves in place.

“Now we challenge you to stop substance abuse,” another student says as funky music plays in the background.

“Every day teens are at risk of an overdose,” a fifth student chimes in. “Drugs affect your brain and several other vital organs.”

“So stop and think,” a sixth student says, “before trying one of these harmful substances.”

Then all six students gather together in the classroom and point to the camera, saying: “Are you up for the challenge?”

Their 30-second “Are You Up to the Challenge?” public service announcement will air on stations across the Garden State, according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.

“We are always so pleased to see the powerful messages the students create to inspire their peers to lead a healthy lifestyle,” Angelo Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, said Feb. 26 in a press statement. “The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey has consistently believed that peer-to-peer messages are an effective means of countering peer pressure when it comes to substance use.”

The partnership’s Middle School PSA Challenge encouraged students in grades 5-8 across New Jersey to write a script for a 30-second public service announcement with a peer-to-peer substance use prevention message.

Hundreds of students participated in the 2017 PSA challenge seeking to craft the winning message. The partnership said 398 students created 123 entries that were evaluated by a panel of judges on creativity, message content and ability to be produced. In the end, the six Grice students won the contest with their cutesy but powerful script.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey organized the PSA challenge in cooperation with the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the New Jersey Department of Human Services.


Hamilton Township through a municipal committee and the police division work to deliver a drug-free message in public and private schools.

The Hamilton Alliance Against Substance Abuse, also known as HAASA, is an advisory body that educates seventh-grade students on illicit drugs such as heroin and ecstasy. The committee has a mandate to promote the prevention of alcoholism and drug abuse in Hamilton, according to the township’s website.

The Hamilton Police Division’s Law Enforcement Against Drugs or L.E.A.D. officers participate in the “Too Good For Drugs” curriculum that seeks to prevent cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and marijuana use among middle school students and to reduce risk factors related to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, according to information posted on

Hamilton Mayor Kelly Yaede in her 2018 State of the Township address talked about the importance of addressing “the opioid crisis that is facing our nation” with initiatives of prevention. She highlighted how the township in 2016 launched a proactive community response plan in which the municipal government works with key stakeholders to encourage healthy lifestyles and to help make a positive difference in the lives of those struggling with addiction.

“We believe prevention — prevention — is just so key in making sure that our youth know what the impact is of their choices,” Yaede said in her Feb. 15 speech. “And although I say, and I’ve said it last year, we cannot make the decision for people on a Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening. Your government can’t, our police department can’t, but we can educate them. We can educate them on the ramifications of doing so and what happens should you not receive a reversal with the institution of Narcan. All of our police carry it.”

Yaede said the township has been “very proactive” in dealing with the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic and mentioned how Trenton native and former NFL wide receiver Vance Johnson recently talked to Hamilton High West students on his personal battle with addiction and drug abuse.

The township’s response to the opioid addiction epidemic is consistent with the challenge that the six Grice Middle School students delivered in their PSA, which is viewable on YouTube.