Drug awareness programs set for remaining county schools

In a flurry of activity over the next four weeks, the special drug awareness program sponsored by the Blount County Board of Education and Hope House for high school students and their parents will cover the remaining county high schools.

The schedule is shown below. The time for all meetings is 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 26 – Susan Moore High School

Jan 28 – Cleveland High School

Feb. 3 – Appalachian High School and Southeastern Elementary, grades 7 and 8 – to be held at Lester Memorial United Methodist Church, in the fellowship hall.

Feb. 17 – J.B. Pennington High School

The program features graphic depictions of the effects of drug use on people whose bodies have been ravaged by addiction. It is presented by Lt. Mike Reese of the Alabama Beverage Control Board, assisted by Carol Hudson of Gadsden, whose college-age son died from an OxyContin overdose several years ago while under treatment for his addiction.

The program is aimed at parents and is intended to communicate that the drug problem has not gone away, and in fact is worse than ever, according to program organizers. One objective is to introduce parents to several resources – individuals and agencies – they can refer to if help is needed.

Blount County schools assistant superintendent Rodney Green said before the pilot meeting at Locust Fork last fall that parents attending the meeting will be encouraged to volunteer their students for drug testing, along with students already included by school policy.

Currently, students participating in competitive extra-curricular activities are automatically included in the population for random drug testing. “We’re going to encourage parents to sign papers to volunteer their children into the testing pool, at no cost to them,” Green said.

Bud Jones, director of the Hope House, said the primary purpose of drug testing is to deter students from drug use, not to punish them. Indications are that the program has accomplished that objective, Jones said.