Students, parents discuss drug issues at meeting

Several students spoke about their drug concerns.
GIRARD -- Several dozen parents and students in the Girard school system held an open discussion on alcohol and other drugs at a meeting for a newly formed parent group.
Thursday's meeting came on the heels of reports of a high school girl's passing out from alcohol at a New Year's Eve party. Superintendent Joseph Jeswald, however, said the Girard Parent Leadership Group had already been formed and the meeting scheduled before the New Year's Eve party reports.
The day started with Mike Kolic, a drug prevention specialist from Arizona, speaking with high school students during school hours. Kolic, who says he was addicted to drugs in his youth, said several students in the school system came forward asking for help with overcoming drug issues.
Some of those students who asked for help spoke openly at the parent group meeting. Some discussed issues they were having with alcohol and other drugs, and others spoke about family members and friends who are having problems with drugs.
Part of larger effort
Jeswald said bringing Kolic into the schools is part of a larger initiative to combat alcohol and drugs put together by school officials. Kolic, he said, will remain in town through early February assisting school officials with intervention programs.
"We do a lot of these things. We like for kids to see things from different perspectives," he said. "No matter how good these programs are, no school is going to stop these problems by itself. It's the parents and schools working together that will solve these problems."
To that end, one parent, who said he is a recovered drug addict, offered to start a narcotics anonymous program at the school. Ralph A., who did not want to use his last name because of his work with narcotics anonymous, said he is looking to work with the student body and school officials in getting the program started.
"You really need kids to help handle a situation with other kids," he said.
Jeswald said a narcotics anonymous program on the school campus would require parental permission for students to attend and a staff member's involvement, but the school "will do whatever we can do."
Board President Phillip Fisher said school officials are trying to be proactive in addressing alcohol and drug issues.
"We are trying to be proactive. We are in the business of educating and that is what we are doing -- educating the kids," he said. "It was a real positive meeting and we got a lot of interested parents."

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