Comments Off on South Dakota schools take aim at Methamphetamine

LAKE ANDES — At Andes Central, teachers preparing for the school year did more than just stock their classrooms with school supplies. They also reviewed warning signs of meth abuse and policies that school officials are to follow when face-to-face with a possible drug or alcohol issue.

“Some people just want to brush the meth problem under the rug,” Principal Rocky Brinkman said. “Nobody really wants to deal with it, but it is a problem in the community and we need to try to find a way to make it better. The only way that will happen is with a proactive approach.”

The Daily Republic in Mitchell examined the anti-drug efforts of several schools as part of a series after state officials highlighted a statewide methamphetamine problem earlier this year.

Andes Central students in extracurricular activities are subject to random drug screenings, and are required to pass the same testing before beginning involvement in sports or other clubs. The method launched in the 2001-02 school year, and Brinkman said it has both identified potential problems and deterred some students from using drugs in the first place.

The school also offers individual counseling and this year will offer group counseling for students suffering the aftereffects of drug abuse either personally or by loved ones.

Andes Central Superintendent Debra Lucas said teachers watch for warning signs or unusual behavior by students. They can send students to counseling, notify their family and offer support through various programs.

At Wagner Community School, the district focuses on building relationships with students and parents from an early age in an attempt to make students feel comfortable enough to approach staff with any issues that arise at home or in the hallways as a result of drug or alcohol abuse, Superintendent Linda Foos said.

Every teacher does a home visit each year to meet with parents and students in an environment outside of the school. And it’s not uncommon for other staff members, like bus drivers and custodians, to reach out to students, Foos said. Wagner also has three counselors—one in each the elementary, junior high and high school.

In September, the Native American Youth Standing Strong program, through the Marty and Wagner Boys and Girls Clubs will begin sponsoring meth marches,” to help raise awareness about meth in South Dakota communities.

The group intends to walk through tribal and residential housing areas with signs, banners and facts to raise awareness about meth. Police, former users, youth and community leaders will also be present to speak and help show support in fighting the issue.

There are no organizations or campaigns dedicated to fighting meth in Wagner yet, economic development director Kelsey Doom said. But city web pages have featured Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s anti-meth campaign, “Meth Changes Everything.”

Daugaard kicked off the campaign, led by the state Department of Social Services, in early August. Doom said multiple people in the community have signed the pledge associated with the campaign to “stand against meth.” More than 1,400 people nationwide have taken the pledge.

 

 

http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/crime/2016/08/28/sd-schools-take-aim-meth/89515328/

 

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