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Byram Hills Youth Swear Off Marijuana

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Ivan Polanco reclaimed April 20 as Marijuana Prevention Day by teaming up with the Westchester Coalition for Drug and Alcohol-Free Youth to turn the concept of 4/20 on its head.

The White Plains resident, 19, played three songs that he said spread the message of love and hope at the Westchester County Center on Friday. They included Nat King Cole's "LOVE," and two originals from the White Plains High School graduate.

"It's all too common for teenagers to get caught up in marijuana and alcohol," said Polanco, who believes many kids just do it to fit in. "Other kids may be doing it, but that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do."

Polanco was the captain of his high school wrestling team and a varsity baseball player. The freshman at SUNY Purchase said he never needed to get high because he was always involved in positive activities like sports and music that gave him a natural high.

"It's a no-brainer," said Rose Arditi, a junior at Byram Hills High School, in a press release. "So many youth are making the healthy choice and staying away from marijuana. April 20 is a day to celebrate those healthy choices and invite others to join us."

Students from high schools across the county gathered Friday afternoon at 4:20 p.m. on the front steps of the County Center, which were adorned with "stairscapes" graphically depicting human skulls with marijuana plants growing out of them.

The Westchester Coalition for Drug and Alcohol-Free Youth tries to reduce substance abuse among youth in Westchester. It represents 30 local community anti-drug coalitions throughout the county.

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