Mistake Turns Conrad’s Life Around

Five years ago, senior Chelsea Conrad was introduced to alcohol for the first time. She was only thirteen-years-old when she took her first shot of Vodka.

“I was a little sketchy about it at first, but I felt peer-pressured. And of course, all the cool kids were doing it,” said Conrad.

Conrad found that the people she surrounded herself with at the time played a big role in her introduction to alcohol.

“My friends tried to get me to drink, and I always felt left out when I didn’t do it. One day, I decided it couldn’t be that bad,” said Conrad.

One evening Conrad decided she would put a small amount into a bottle with Juice and took it to school the next day. The next morning, after getting ready for school, she stuck it in the side pocket of her backpack.

“I never really took the time to think about doing it, I just did it, not even realizing the consequences because I thought I would never get caught; nothing like that would ever happen to me,” said Conrad.

Conrad’s worst nightmare was about to come true.

“I remember the moment I heard someone had told on me, I ran to the bathroom and flushed the contents of the bottle down the toilet; all in panic. The word had gotten out to my classmates and I was made fun of in the hallways going to class. I was then called out of class to go down to the office. There sat Mr. Brewster behind the desk, and I immediately had tears rolling down my face because I knew this was the end,” said Conrad.

Conrad went into many different programs including AA meetings, substance abuse classes, community service, and probation. Denny Followel, a Paoli Jr. Sr. High school substitute teacher, was one of her teachers during this time.

One thing Conrad says she remembers is that Denny was one of the people during that whole period who believed in her. She felt that he had faith that she would turn herself around, and she did.

“He seems scary because he’s tall and can play off the scary type, but he’s such a goodhearted person. I owe everything to him, he really made me think twice about what I was doing and all the bad choices I was making,” said Conrad.

When Followell was asked about Conrad he expresses how proud of her he was, “I would like to tell Chelsea I’m still very, very proud of her and her hard work and dedication to graduate and not use alcohol or drugs.”

Followel remembers Conrad just as much as she remembers him, and that’s all due to the fact that she used this opportunity to turn her life around and work for the better. Followel mentions that most people don’t use that experience like that, and he is proud that she became so dedicated.

“I remember one afternoon he pulled me aside with my mom and had a heart-to-heart with me. He told me he knew I could do this; he knew I wasn’t that type of kid. The sad part is, is that I knew he was right. I instantly started crying as he hugged me, and from that moment on, he was my rock,” said Conrad.

Conrad_C_WEBStory By Kate-Lynn Agan