Hempfield school officials seek parental involvement in drug awareness program
Hempfield Area school officials said Monday they intend to be creative and innovative in their efforts to get more parents to attend a special drug and alcohol awareness program next month — an effort that takes on heightened meaning in the wake of a suspected drug overdose of a Hempfield Area senior.
Superintendent Andy Leopold said that school officials need to find ways to get the students to bring their parents to the drug forum so they are aware of the growing drug problem among youth. The school district has held seminars conducted by experts in that field, but attendance by parents has been sparse.
“We're trying to do a better job. Parents can't afford not to come,” Leopold said.
A drug forum for parents is tentatively set for March 14, while a series of assemblies will be held with students on March 12, Leopold said.
In addition to offering information about drug abuse, Leopold indicated the parents have to become more active in the fight against drugs.
“Part of the message will be, there are times when you need to be a parent, not a friend,” Leopold said.
Jonathan Morelli, 18, a senior at Hempfield Area High School, died Feb. 6 of a suspected drug overdose. The Westmoreland County Coroner found evidence at the scene of drug use, and Morelli's mother, Rachele Morelli, said her son had previously used heroin and had undergone drug rehabilitation treatments.
Morelli's death was the fifth drug overdose fatality in the county that the coroner's office has investigated this month.
Leopold said that Hempfield Area has drug and alcohol awareness programs for its students, but that the problem persists. A lot of students will admit to experimenting with drugs, such as marijuana, and drinking alcohol, and think it is not a problem.
“We're obviously not getting to a lot of the young people. A little bit of that is not OK. Young people think it won't happen to me,” Leopold said.
School Director Randy Stoner, a member of the district's drug awareness and prevention program, suggested making attendance at the drug prevention programs a requirement for graduation.
Leopold said that such an idea “is not too far down the road.”
Drug prevention experts are telling school officials that they need to introduce the drug and alcohol awareness programs not just in the middle school, but in fourth and fifth grades, with age-appropriate information.
“You need to talk about it before they (students) even begin to think of those thoughts,” Leopold said.
Lori Shasko of Hempfield suggested requiring students suspected of drug use to undergo drug testing.
The district does not have a policy requiring students to undergo drug testing if they are suspected of drug use. The superintendent said he sees a lot of legal ramifications to drug testing.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sale of former SCI Greensburg prison to advance despite lawmakers’ objections
- Fast-growing Americans for Prosperity opens location in Greensburg
- Jeannette teen, charged with killing another, took ‘selfie’ with body, court papers say
- With comprehensive plan on way, Jeannette hears residents’ ideas
- Police claim woman stabbed husband at their Jeannette business
- Previously convicted of embezzlement, Mt. Pleasant postal worker accused of mail theft