Pam Dudding-Burch
Contributing writer

Photo by Pam Dudding-Burch
Craig County High and Middle School have many banners throughout the hallways meant to bring out the best in people.

Webster’s Dictionary definition of the word high is; a state of high spirits or euphoria. Other words used as synonyms include: ecstatic, exhilarated, delirious, elated, thrilled, overjoyed, beside oneself, on cloud nine, in seventh heaven and jumping for joy.


Most people know that children are a reflection of what they see and hear around them. “They mirror our family values, our society and our cultural images that we present to them as they form their lives,” Paul Paradzinski shared. “Adults, both at home and in the community at large, set the example of good decision making for youth to follow…so, how are we doing?”

These are questions and concerns posed from the CPPT (Craig Prevention Planning Team), who strive to bring information and assistance to Craig’s citizens, its students and the school system. Paradzinski is a citizen and participant in the group.

Every other year, Craig County Middle and High school students are given a survey to gauge how they are responding to certain actions, family values and the local surrounding cultures. J. D. Carlin, Prevention Specialist Prevention Services for the Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare, spearheads the questionnaire process. “We care deeply about these students and strive to do all we can to be there for them and give them the resources they need to be successful in life,” Carlin said.

One question asks if their parents or school let them know when they have done something well. Only 32 percent of middle school students and 35 percent of high school students say they were recognized and supported for a job well done. “Two thirds of our students do not feel supported,” Paradzinski said.

Another question asks if youth agree that there are people in the community that encourage them to do their best. Seventy-two percent of middle school students and 75 percent of high school students said there were. Sadly, this still means that 25 percent of students do not feel the support of their community.

“It is no wonder then that youth may go searching for that ‘something’ to lift themselves up and feel good,” Paradzinski explained. “In this age of instant gratification, drugs, alcohol, sex and violence are the norm that give a dangerous high, but creates long-term damage.”

His suggestion? “Let’s change our attitudes and create a natural high!” It is known that a family high, and yes, an individual high is full of a positive, joyful happiness that makes one feel good physically and emotionally,” he said. “To develop this high, one has to first stop and look around for those good things. Paradzinski emphasized, “They come quick and often, and they are out there if we open our hearts to let them pour in.”

What is considered ‘good things’, can differ from person to person. “For one it could be a ray of sunshine that makes a spot of flowers come alive with beauty, a brief visit from an old friend, sharing the joy when someone in your family does something very well, doing something that the whole family takes part in without computers, cell phones or video games or just a family being together as one,” Paradzinski shared. For others it could be a country drive, fishing, sports or even reading to one another.

“Picking one night a week as family night is another example of a very good thing,” Paradzinski said. “It can be hard to shut off all the outside interference and electronic devices for the evening, but it will be well worth it.”

He added that once one has done this, to fix a meal together, bake some cookies or a favorite pie. “Meal time is a perfect time to share,” one community member said. “My rules are no TV or phones while we eat and it has always proven to bring our family closer!”

Paradzinski suggested that during the meal, talk about what each member did that day, have each member tell something good or funny about their day or share something about the family that makes you happy, or even something about family members that are no longer with you. Maybe play a game afterward with the eating of the cookies or pie as the final piece to a great family evening together!”

“By doing this, you are saying each member of your family is important.” Paradzinski said. “By cooking a meal together and letting each person share good things about themselves and your family, you let everyone know that they are an important piece of your family and in this, you remind them that you care about them, are interested in them and want to be a part of their lives.”

Still, there are times when one is by themselves and have to create that ‘natural high’. “Take advantage of the natural beauty of Craig County and head out to for a hike,” Paradzinski suggested. “Perhaps enjoy a book or write some music, take pictures and put together scrapbooks which can help you and others remember some of the wonderful moments of your life later on.”

It has been proven that when people strive to look for the good, and to ‘do’ these things, then the ‘natural high is being created. Also, one’s attitude will change to see the good in people and the good in themselves and the happiness in the family starts to develop and grow stronger.

Paradzinski concluded, “No drug, marijuana, drink or negative behavior can produce anything as powerful as a ‘natural high’.”

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