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Unity Day Addresses Substance Abuse

On Friday, October 18, 2019, the St. Sebastian's Community gathered to celebrate Unity Day. This year’s program was focused on some of the many dangers facing our youth, covering the topics of party culture, substance abuse and addiction.

Students and faculty began the morning in the Church, where they heard from Richard Dalton P’97. Richard, and his wife, Carmela, lost their son, Michael, a 1997 graduate of St. Sebastian’s, to an accidental overdose while he was in treatment for opioid addiction in January 2018. Richard shared many wonderful memories of his son, recalling his days as a three-season Arrows athlete, #17, and especially his love of hockey. Michael went onto Colby College and had everything going for him, including a strong network of family and friends. Richard shared with the boys that he never imagined this would happen to his son. He noted that it came down to one bad decision and encouraged the students to think carefully when tempted to engage in risky behaviors.

In the wake of this tragedy, the Daltons have turned their grief into action, establishing a non-profit, Think of Michael, to help others facing substance abuse. The nonprofit, founded in January, picks up the $800 tab for a month at a sober house for income-eligible substance abuse patients who have completed treatment. This is just one of the many ways the Daltons have been working to help others avoid what they’re going through while honoring their son’s memory. 

The students then broke into discussion groups in classrooms, with the high school students watching “If They Had Known,” a documentary that focuses on today’s party culture and the risks of recreationally mixing prescriptions drugs with alcohol, while the younger students heard a presentation on the dangers of vaping.  The morning also included a peer-mentoring session, which included brunch, games, and discussion time between the younger students and their older mentors.

Unity Day concluded with closing remarks from Headmaster Burke and a reflection of our school's Unity Day celebration, which heightens our awareness of the bonds that tie us, so we all may grow in our capacity and resolve to know, to love, and to serve God and neighbor.

Richard Dalton talks during Unity Day
Group photo on Unity Day.
A group of boys talk to each other.
A small group of boys talk to each other.
A group of boys talk to each other.
A group of boys during Unity Day.
Boys play a game.
Boys play a game during Unity Day.