Response to heroin assembly prompts school to offer it to community

By Ed Runyan


In the weeks after several Howland teachers organized and presented the “Faces of Heroin” assembly to Howland High School students in October, some teachers assigned writing projects to gauge the students’ reactions.

The essays, plus the tears she saw during the assembly, suggested to organizer Meghan Durig, an intervention specialist at the high school, that the message about the dangers of drug addiction got through.

“We feel it hit home with the students,” she said. “I think it opened their eyes and made them realize it’s OK to talk about it and that help is out there,” she said.

The school district will give the presentation a second time at 5 p.m. Jan. 15 in the high-school gymnasium/auditorium, this time for all of the community to hear and see. Those attending should enter through the gymnasium doors.

The assembly was unique in that it presented the stories of several former students who lost a sibling to a drug overdose. One Howland graduate spoke of hearing her father say: “You need to go home. I think your brother has passed away,” then seeing his body in the funeral home.

The assembly also included poster boards spread throughout the auditorium with photos and information about seven Howland High graduates from 2000 to 2010 who died of drug overdoses. Durig is checking to make sure the families will allow information about their loved one to be shared to a wider audience.

“They needed to know that people who were sitting where they were sitting had unfortunately passed away,” Durig said of the students in the first presentation.

Many of the same speakers at the student assembly will deliver their message again at the community presentation. But the students have also created a new video to present, Durig said.

The assembly was “well- received by the students, family members and the people in the community,” Durig said. It made many adults wish they could experience it, too.

The school system provided counselors after the presentation so that students could talk about anything that came up during the presentation.

The high school also now has a resource table where students can obtain information to help them and others with drug-related issues.

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