Greeted by squeals and rebel yells from 1,000 Northern Virginia high school students, Redskins quarterback star Jay Schroeder yesterday teamed up with self-proclaimed "heavy" Attorney General Edwin Meese to make a pitch against illegal drug use.
"The biggest thing any of you have to worry about is peer pressure," said Schroeder, wearing a stylish fitted suit and bright yellow tie as he strolled around the Langley High stage during a 10-minute monologue. "We all go to parties in high school. We all want to belong . . . . The proper thing to do is say 'no.'
"You have to have enough self-esteem . . . to say, 'Hey, that's not for me,' " he told the packed auditorium.
Meese, in a dark blue suit and acknowledging he was playing the more serious role, was equally direct. "Before you smoke a joint or before you snort a line, think of what you're putting at risk," he said. If students use or sell drugs, Meese said, "you have a very real chance of going to jail."
Meese, Schroeder and drug specialist Dr. Mark S. Gold went to Langley to promote a new Justice Department program of antidrug assemblies in high schools around the nation. "I think every school has a drug problem of some sort," Meese said.
The 50-minute gathering, and a similar session at Eastern High School in the District last week, were videotaped to send to U.S. attorneys around the country for local use.
Langley High, from which Meese's daughter Dana graduated last year, is located in a Fairfax County neighborhood where polo shirts, Swatch watches and penny loafers are the clothing of choice among the well-dressed students.
The drug of choice, said several students at the school, is cocaine.
They offered differing estimates, ranging from 10 percent to 40 percent, of how many Langley students have tried it, and said in interviews that most young people at Langley can afford the high-priced drug.
"It's easily accessible," said Langley senior Bethany Peters, 17. Kelly Walters, 17, also a senior, said there is no more drug use at Langley than other schools, but, "It's gotten a lot worse over the last couple of years."
Principal James E. Manning said, "Most of our kids are in pretty good shape, but there are a few we are worried about." The school has a "substance abuse team" and is trying to work with students who abuse alcohol and drugs, he said.
Gold, who founded a national cocaine abuse hot line and has treated such patients as rock musicians, athletes and Wall Street analysts, told the students, "Among all the drugs we know about, cocaine is the most addicting." He listed some of its possible side effects: nasal sores, collapsed septum and irregular heartbeat.
"Look beyond the immediate pleasure . . . . Look over the horizon and think what life is going to be a year or two ahead," Meese said during the program.