Freeport Middle School students, joined by Mike McManus, school resource officer, and guidance counselor Phyllis Latham, hit a couple Freeport stores that serve pizza last week. But the Interact Club members, all sixth-graders, weren’t there to sample the goods. Rather, they were on a mission sponsored by Casco Bay Create Awareness Now (Casco Bay CAN), designed to deter adults from furnishing minors with liquor.

Kaleigh Sloan, program coordinator for Casco Bay CAN, was on hand, as well, to support the students as they placed stickers on pizza boxes at Bow Street Market and Sam’s Pizza. Gus Wing, Vivian Crawford, Brady Grogan, Katie Murray, Cameron Desrosiers and Zack Benner all took part in “Project Sticker Shock,” held in conjunction with Alcohol Awareness Month. The stickers read simply: “Because you care about teens, don’t provide the means.”

Earlier on the day of Dec. 15, Freeport High School students conducted a similar exercise, putting the stickers on beer and wine cooler cartons in local stores.

Both McManus and Latham said there is no evidence of alcohol use at Freeport Middle School. The problem surfaces at the high school.

“Ours is more about preventative work at this stage,” Latham said. “This is one of the Interact Club’s services, to go out and do this. They’re putting the stickers on pizza boxes, because pizza and beer go together.”

Wing said that he found Project Sticker Shock to be an interesting exercise.

“It gives us a time just to figure out what’s happening around town and see what people need,” Wing said. “It will kind of help people’s awareness as to what the good choices are.”

McManus, school resource officer Freeport-area schools for 17 years, said that alcohol use among high school students has remained “pretty constant” through the years – pointing to the need for an effort such as Project Sticker Shock.

The 2013 (and latest) Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey reported that alcohol use in the past 30 days by students in the Casco Bay region – Freeport, Yarmouth, Pownal, North Yarmouth, Cumberland, Gray, New Gloucester and Falmouth – was 5 percent for grades 7-8 and 27 percent for grades 9-12.

With holiday parties in full swing, concern is high.

“This data reinforces the need for adults hosting holiday parties in particular during this time of year to track their alcohol and use separate coolers for alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages,” Sloan said. “Even better, put the coolers in different locations in the room when hosting a party. Kids should not be going over by the alcohol cooler.”

Project Sticker Shock participants, from left, are Mike McManus, school resource officer; Gus Wing; Katie Murray, holding up one of the stickers; store manager Jim Frey; Vivian Crawford; Zack Benner; Brady Grogan; and Cameron Desrosiers.Freeport Middle School sixth-grader Zack Benner, left, applies a sticker on a pizza box at Bow Street Market on Dec. 15, as classmate Cameron Desrosiers reaches for another box. The students applied stickers that read “Because you care about teens, don’t provide the means,” as a way of discouraging adults from providing alcohol to minors.

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