"How many of you know someone who has been depressed?"

Christine Harms, director of Colorado's School Safety Resource Center, asked this question of nearly 120 Western Slope students and teachers on Tuesday during the 2018 Student and Staff Safety Summit.

In every session, nearly every hand went up.

The daylong summit is a chance for state and local officials to talk with students about school safety — marijuana use, school drills, sexting, bullying and suicide — as well check in on what students want to know more about.

"We think it's wise for us to be double-checking with students as to what they perceive are the issues with school safety, and not what we assume they are," Harms said.

Students and school staff from Palisade, Montrose, Grand Junction and Rifle met for five hours on Tuesday, both as a large group and in small group sessions.

What stuck out to students from Palisade High School was a two-hour keynote speech and question-and-answer session with Ben Cort, author of "Weed, Inc."

Freshman Anna Warren said she was glad to hear both sides of the marijuana argument.

"In school you hear more of the negative side of it, the getting high part of it, instead of the medical part of it that might be helping people with autism or cancer or something," she said.

Anna and her classmates are a part of Live Above, a club that aims to encourage students to live above negative influences.

Senior Alexandrina Jenne and junior Emma Masen said they hope the information they learned at the summit will help them to impact their school.

"There's a lot of false information going around, so providing people with the truth will definitely help our school," Emma said.

Students fill out evaluations at the end of the summit, which is often where some of the most valuable information comes from, Harms said. This year, students said they wanted to know more about alcohol, safe driving and hazing.

"I'm always heartened by how smart kids are and how much they care about some things," Harms said. "We're hoping it will spark them to do some projects in their schools to address the things we talked about today."

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