The Herren Project comes to Schreiber


Students filled out purple hearts that were displayed around the school in order to show their support of remaining drug-free.

Tori Finkle and Jesse Moskowitz, Staff Writers

After visiting on Dec. 10, sharing his story about his drug addiction and recovery, and reaching the hearts of many Schreiber students, former NBA player Mr. Chris Herren has returned to Schreiber to help spread the Herren Project’s message throughout the school.

The Herren Project was founded by Chris Herren, a recovered drug addict, in order to provide assistance for those in seeking sobriety, or in need of education assistance and awareness.

Schreiber students decided to get involved because of Mr. Herren’s speech.  Sophomore Ryan Perlman was one of the leaders in starting the project at Schreiber.

“The Herren Project is used to promote sobriety and educated the youth.  Herren’s story was so moving that I, along with other members of the Letter Club, decided to bring this project to our school,” said Perlman.   “We hope to reduce the amount of teens that do drugs and to provide teens with the support they need to fix their problems without turning to drugs.”

In addition, the goal is to provide effective treatment and support centers for those suffering from addiction, and educate youth in order to prevent the start of drug use.   Mr. Herren believes that insecurities are a primary factor in prompting drug abuse, and that increasing self-confidence will help solve the problem.

The Letter Club is bringing awareness to the school by hanging up signed purple hearts around the gym and putting flyers in the hallways.  These purple hearts and flyers symbolize sobriety, recovery, self-confidence, and are inspired by Mr. Herren’s foundation, Project Purple.

Project Purple was created in 2011 after one of Mr. Herren’s speeches at a high school.  In the front row of the assembly, a group of students was wearing purple shirts.  At the end of the assembly one of the students said, “Thank you Mr. Herren for validating what we do.  We are the sober students of this high school and each year we take a pledge to not use drugs or alcohol.”  These students inspired Mr. Herren to continue making a difference and ultimately to create Project Purple.

Sophomore Lizzie Witkow explained the motivation behind Project Purple.

“The Letter Club decided to work with Chris Herren’s Project Purple campaign in order to promote a drug free atmosphere amongst Schreiber students, especially for athletes,” said Witkow.

The Safety and Substance Abuse Task Force was able to get Mr. Herren to speak to the students through a grant of $25,000 from Senator Mr. Jack Martins.   The co-chairs of the task force are athletic director Ms. Stephanie Joannon and school board president Ms. Karen Sloan, and they helped bring Mr. Herren to the school.

“He was different then most speakers we have had in the past because he seemed to catch the attention of many Schreiber students,” said Ms. Sloan.

At the assembly, he explained how his drug abuse started with casual drinking with friends, an activity common among Schreiber students.

“The assembly was a big reality check for a lot of students,” said Junior Emma Feldman.   “It provided them with the mindset they needed to prevent drug abuse, improve decision-making, and get help for others in need.  This mindset led to our involvement in project purple.  Collectively, the Letter Club is advocating the expansion of this mindset.  Since students all around the school were intrigued by this assembly, the club had a strong support system to carry out Herren Project.”

The Letter Club hopes the Herren Project will actively inspire students around our school to pledge sobriety and to continue spreading this message to other teens across the country.   The Herren Project intends to save or help at least one student in every school where Mr. Herren speaks.

“Letter Club hopes that our school will take to heart Chris Herren’s message that being yourself is good enough and that you don’t need substances in order to have a good time,” said Sophomore Andrew Gottfried.  “If you feel like you need a substance in order to change, then you must address that issue in order to live a substance-free, healthy lifestyle.”

Expanding on that message, many students have signed purple hearts that, below their names, say ‘Good enough. Proud.’