Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Students deserve leadership on stopping addiction

    I want to thank the Blaine County Drug Coalition for bringing Chris Herren to our community.
    Every high school student at Wood River High School (as well as Silver Creek, Carey, Sage and Community) had the opportunity to hear Chris Herren speak about addiction. The message was powerful and right on the money.
    Wood River High School has a reputation in the community, whether we like it or not. Weed River or Wood Reefer show up in conversations up and down the valley. The names date back 30-plus years. Have we become complacent as a community? Did we throw in the proverbial towel and give up on our youth? The Wood River High School parent climate survey from last spring indicated 95 percent of the parents who responded had concerns with drug and alcohol use among our students. Our superintendent has shared that during her listening tour the topic of drug and alcohol use at WRHS is a common theme. There is quantitative and qualitative data that supports this unfortunate problem.
    The Chris Herren assembly has the potential to start taking back what we believe as educators is at the core of the message. Students who are not capable of being themselves 24/7 cannot possibly reach their potential. Learning is secondary at best. This is unacceptable on every level. We cannot give up because this is our future. These are our kids. This is our house.
    Before we start the finger pointing, I ask this question: Why do we think the status quo approach is adequate? It’s not. Let’s not pretend and brush this under the rug. I have been overwhelmed with student responses to Mr. Herren’s message. They felt a connection as painful as it might have been. He created positive relationships with kids in less than an hour.
    Mr. Herren made it clear that those kids who spend their time on the weekends drug- and alcohol-free are his heroes. They should be ours, too. We must start with little victories and build on them. I’m proud of our school, our staff, our students, our families and our community. We have the power to change this behavior with our youth and we have the ability to fix the perceptions. Let’s continue the energy and the dialogue. Our students deserve nothing less.
Pete Jurovich
Wood River High School


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