D.C. School Superintendent Floretta D. McKenzie walked up to a microphone in Eastern High School's auditorium yesterday and asked for cooperation.
"We're videotaping a drug awareness program that will be used around the country," she explained. "If you wave and do funny things, you will be cut out. You've got to sit and look interested and whatever . . . . We think it will . . . help young people sort out the place of drugs in their lives.
"I think I am loose enough," she continued. "Now we are going to get started." McKenzie then introduced herself, and the cameras rolled.
She had no need to worry that the audience of 800 students wouldn't cooperate. For more than an hour they gasped at gruesome pictures of drug addicts' sores and needle marks, applauded loudly for a troupe of ex-addicts who performed a skit on choosing between PCP and a girlfriend, and listened intently as police Detective Johnny St. Valentine Brown Jr. talked about dealing drugs. When Brown exhorted, "Don't do it," the students cheered.
Afterward, junior Stephanie Mosley, 17, said, "I understood what they were talking about, and I think it helped me a lot . . . . We have to go the other way."
Yesterday's program was part of a series in District schools this year organized by the Black U.S. Attorneys Association of Washington with strong backing from U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova. The taping was done by a crew hired by the Justice Department, which hopes U.S. attorneys elsewhere in the country will show it.
"We're here today because we love you and we care very much about you," diGenova told the students. "We want you to know that we don't want to see you in the courts or in prison."
The students cheered him, too.