Students form new community group GRAND


Photo Credit: Madie Jones

Three of the founders of GRAND, Caitlin O’Brien, Dylaney Sabino, and Caroline Torpey, meet up to discuss ideas for the startup of GRAND. The group was officially launched this school year.

by Chloe Siohan, Copy Editor

Students and town members created the community group “Glen Rock Against Negativity and Drugs” to provide a safe space for high schoolers in Glen Rock and the surrounding area to speak about mental health and drug addiction.

Group President Dylaney Sabino, junior, created the group to give high schoolers a voice, and provide a safe space for them to share their feelings and ideas.

Sabino said, “We wanted to create a program for the community that could spread messages of positivity, self love, healthy living and community improvement.”

The idea of starting the club began when Sabino was driving home from a meeting with the Lindsey Meyer Teen Institute (LMTI), the organization that GRAND is working in conjunction with.

“We saw a hole in our community that could really use these ideas and this organization,” Sabino said. “We had such a passion to bring it to them and also give ourselves a place to plan such changes and promote LMTI specific ideals.”

Caroline Torpey, Advertisement Manager and Executive Board Member agrees.

She said, “We figured that starting one organization was the best way to enact involvement in our own community.”

To form the group, Sabino enlisted the help of other locals, including Madie Jones, Caroline Torpey, Jessica Peiser, and Caitlin O’Brien. Together they communicated with LMTI to plan GRAND. Glen Rock has never had an organization like GRAND before, so the guidance and opinions LMTI provided them with was extremely helpful.

After sufficient planning, they took their idea to the public, at a meeting with Michelle Torpey. They discussed how the group should go about spreading their message around town. They spent time coming up for ideas and campaigns, trying to get students involved, and establishing an email and Instagram.

Even then, it took a lot of effort to form the group.

“Communicating with such busy people with such important events and filled schedules was really difficult so a lot of it was patience,” Sabino said.

Torpey was highly motivated and enthusiastic about bringing LMTI to Glen Rock, but it was difficult with her busy schedule.

Although it was a lot of work, they believed the formation of GRAND was important to the community. The growing need for student access to positivity and healthy alternatives to drug coping was apparent to Torpey. She blames the high anxiety students have to the competitive high school environment.

“Nowadays, students are so stressed, and they need a place they can go to to feel emotionally safe,” Torpey said. “I want people to feel like they can feel safe, accepted, and meet others who share LMTI’s message of loving yourself and others.”

The main goal of GRAND is to provide students in the area with that type of communicative environment.

Sabino hopes that the group creates a positive impact in the community, even though they’re starting off small.

“We would love to grow our following as well as have several campaigns which go along with our values,” she said. “Just to have our name known by the town and students as a safe place would be incredible.”

About 12 people attended the first GRAND meeting, which includes five permanent members who are part of the Executive Board or act as supporters. They spent about two hours educating and expressing to high schoolers what they hope to accomplish within the group.

“I am so fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to visit LMTI, and learn for myself how important it is to love others, including yourself,” Torpey said. “LMTI has not only impacted me so much, and has shifted my perspective. By bringing it to Glen Rock, I hope that it will do the same for others.”

They plan on coordinating movie nights, karaoke nights, holiday events, field trips, and more activities. The group hopes to hold meetings bi-monthly, and encourages new members to join, especially to participate in a LMTI conference from Nov. 9 to 11.