A hip-hop video posted online over the Christmas break has led to school suspensions for several Grand Falls-Windsor teens, and has once again opened up a conversation about youth drug use in the area.
The video features the song Sleep Again by Manzy, the rap name for Exploits Valley High (EVH) student Brad Manuel. In the video, Manuel and friends are seen rapping in different areas around Grand Falls-Windsor — including in front of EVH.
WARNING: Video contains profanity and images of drug use
Throughout the music video, the teens are seen smoking what looks to be marijuana — a move which Exploits Valley High says violates its drug and social media policies.
A line of text posted with the video claims that "any props used in this video that show resemblance to any illegal materials or actions are 100 per cent props and should not be taken seriously."
As a result of the video, both Manuel and the video's director, Lucas Hillier, were suspended from EVH for three days. As well, both teens were kicked off the hockey team and Hiller was also removed from the school's basketball team.
"In this particular case, the school was put in the video and images that condone drug use were conveyed, and certainly that's not something that we would want as representing EVH or any of our schools," said Bronson Collins, assistant director of education with the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District.
"We want our students to be responsible decision makers, making good decisions for themselves."
Collins said all students at the school should be aware of the social media policy at this point, and it was important for the school to follow through on the suspensions in the interest of stressing the importance of responsible social media use.
"We're saying to students that the things you say and do on social media are part of your permanent digital record, you can't erase them, you can't remove them," he said.
"In today's society, we're in a country where 60 to 70 per cent of companies actually use your digital record as a means of screening you for a job. So we're very, very concerned about the impact of what people may post."
The video and suspensions have once again raised the issue of youth drug use in the Grand Falls-Windsor area.
In October, the town's minor hockey association received an allegation that there were drugs found at the local hockey arena.
The association investigated, but in the end couldn't prove the allegation. However, it did take action in the form of education from addiction specialists.
The EVH school hockey team, which includes many of the same players, did the same — which delayed the team's season as the school waited for the minor hockey investigation to end.
Manuel and the other teens involved in the Sleep Again video declined requests for interviews.