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Countywide : Student Scribes Spread Word on Drugs, Gangs

For a group of 68 high school journalists in the county, writing to combat drugs and gangs is what it’s all about.

The group produces a quarterly newsletter, aimed strictly at students, called Quest, and they work through offices provided by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in Santa Ana.

“We publish 120,000 copies four times a year, and they go to all the high schools in the county,” said Sabrina Friedman, 17, a junior at Canyon High in Anaheim Hills, editor in chief of Quest.

Managing Editor Payal Kumar, 17, a senior at Canyon High, and Friedman on Tuesday were editing stories and planning Quest’s first 1995 edition. The desktop publication costs about $10,000 to $12,000 a year in donated funds, according to Marilyn MacDougall, an adult adviser.

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“Kids really do read this,” said MacDougall, who is executive director of the nonprofit Drug Use Is Life Abuse/Project: No Gangs. “They read it because it’s written by students--by their peers. We tend to listen to our own generation.”

The newsletter is circulated free to all public and private high schools. It has articles from a teen-ager’s point of view.

For instance, a recent piece commented on drugs at group dances called “raves.” Said the article: “Inside raves, drinks laced with amino acids can be purchased under a facade of smart drinks. However, the drinks can be deadly. . . .”

“I think our readers are more apt to listen to teen-agers than to an adult,” Friedman said.

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