City high school takes on drug issues

Amber Nicholson
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SUMMERSIDE - Three Oaks Senior High administration and staff are asking the public to join their effort against the rising number of student drug users and traffickers.

The school has organized an event aimed at educating parents and creating a discussion of what can be done to address the drug problem.

"Our goal is to inform society because it takes all of us working together to help these students," said TOSH principal Duncan McKillop. "We would like parents and the community to recognize that these issues are happening so that they can address them."

McKillop stressed it is not only Three Oaks that is dealing with an increased number of drug users and sellers and it will take everyone working together to make a difference.

"I think the problem that we have is typical of all high schools on the Island and probably all high schools in Canada. We all share the goal of providing a safe environment for our students and to maximize their success, so obstacles that get in the way of that we have to deal with," said the concerned principal.

School counsellor Sandra Sheridan works one-on-one with students who are facing drug-related issues. She believes a public discussion is necessary to inform parents of what is really happening with their children.

"It's a serious issue and it can be very discouraging because it feels like it's a battle we're not winning. It's these kinds of things that will help us get there. The more people can open their eyes to realities and talk about it, the better we'll be able to deal with this," said the counsellor.

McKillop said it is not merely a dozen students who are involved with drugs, but "a significant number of students." Several students have been caught using drugs, possessing drugs and selling drugs on school property. Most students found to have a drug problem share a common trend of difficulty focusing in the classroom and poor class attendance.

McKillop and Sheridan said they have noticed students are choosing stronger drugs and at a younger age. 

"Some people say we did the same thing when we were young and really it's not that much different - it's quite a bit different than it was 20 years ago. The drugs are stronger. What these kids are taking now is stronger. They are being laced with products that are really harmful and scary," said Sheridan. "The knowledge of drugs that the Grade 10 students have when they come to Three Oaks is shocking."

McKillop added the school has had to deal with students as young as 14-years-old who arrive at high school with drug addictions.

TOSH now has two youth service workers, two school counsellors, rotating drug addiction officers who visit the school, four administrators and several teachers who work with students regularly to help them overcome their drug issues.

The drug education event will be held Monday at 7 p.m. in the TOSH cafeteria. Panel experts include Prince County Hospital emergency physician Dr. Steven MacNeill, PCH youth addiction worker Cindy Galt, RCMP Const. Andy Cooke and Bev Semple, a parent of a youth drug user. Everyone is welcome.

anicholson@journalpioneer.com

Organizations: Prince County Hospital, RCMP Const.

Geographic location: SUMMERSIDE, Iceland, Canada

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Recent comments

  • MM
    January 12, 2011 - 15:34

    Does TOSH really think that talk to the students will keep them off the drugs? I doubt it. You can try and scare them away with all the bad, long term side effects that it does to you mentally and physically, but they know what will happen, and they don't care. As "Been there" mentioned, they use it as an escape because there's nothing else to do in this craphole of a town. It's a huge retirement home. We have a mall, a movie theatre, and a few fast food joints. They have the bingo hall, the legion, Tims downtown where the elderly can stay for hours, hoot, yell and hollar all they want, but when my friends and I went down there, drank a coffee and spent more than 15 mins there quietly in the corner? We got kicked out.of the uptown Wendy's? We were being kicked out becuase the elderly people sitting behind us were yelling, and other people blamed it on us. Before I could finish eating, they threatened to call the cops on us because I said I was a buying customer and was eating. They didn't care. I was 15 and with 2 of my friends, so I was causing trouble. There was nowhere for me to go but sit at a friend's house and try to entertain ourselves. I will admit, I have gone to TOSH and I'm not surprised at the number of kids that are using these days. When I was there, there were quite a few kids doing all of that stuff during and after school hours, they just weren't as open about it. Talking to the kids won't help. I heard it all when I was in school, and I frankly did not care what any of the teachers had to say becuase over the few years that I was doing this, I educated myself. I did all of that stuff because I was bored of this town, I can't get out of here, so why not enjoy myself and gap out for a few hours and pass out, then one more day has gone by. I've had a few rough addictions, alcohol and drugs at the same time, and I'm only in my early 20s. Rediculous, eh? I like the comments about adding more places where youths can go and hang out, it would be more fun. If there were places for me to go, considering I didn't play sports or skateboard, I had nowhere to go, I would have loved to have spent my time doing something else.

  • MM
    January 12, 2011 - 15:32

    Does TOSH really think that talk to the students will keep them off the drugs? I doubt it. You can try and scare them away with all the bad, long term side effects that it does to you mentally and physically, but they know what will happen, and they don't care. As "Been there" mentioned, they use it as an escape because there's nothing else to do in this craphole of a town. It's a huge retirement home. We have a mall, a movie theatre, and a few fast food joints. They have the bingo hall, the legion, Tims downtown where the elderly can stay for hours, hoot, yell and hollar all they want, but when my friends and I went down there, drank a coffee and spent more than 15 mins there quietly in the corner? We got kicked out.of the uptown Wendy's? We were being kicked out becuase the elderly people sitting behind us were yelling, and other people blamed it on us. Before I could finish eating, they threatened to call the cops on us because I said I was a buying customer and was eating. They didn't care. I was 15 and with 2 of my friends, so I was causing trouble. There was nowhere for me to go but sit at a friend's house and try to entertain ourselves. I will admit, I have gone to TOSH and I'm not surprised at the number of kids that are using these days. When I was there, there were quite a few kids doing all of that stuff during and after school hours, they just weren't as open about it. Talking to the kids won't help. I heard it all when I was in school, and I frankly did not care what any of the teachers had to say becuase over the few years that I was doing this, I educated myself. I did all of that stuff because I was bored of this town, I can't get out of here, so why not enjoy myself and gap out for a few hours and pass out, then one more day has gone by. I've had a few rough addictions, alcohol and drugs at the same time, and I'm only in my early 20s. Rediculous, eh? I like the comments about adding more places where youths can go and hang out, it would be more fun. If there were places for me to go, considering I didn't play sports or skateboard, I had nowhere to go, I would have loved to have spent my time doing something else.

  • wow
    January 07, 2011 - 08:32

    I have to agree with "Been There" summerside needs a place where teens can go an hang out and not get in trouble for just sitting around talking when I grew up in summerside there was nothing for teens to do! and If we went out for supper and stayed to sit an talk we would get kicked out!

  • Been there
    January 06, 2011 - 19:39

    I agree with Unreal, and I speak from experience. By the time I got to TOSH, it was definitely a continued education in drugs from SIS. It was easy to slip through the system at SIS if you kept your head down, walked softly, and generally showed up for class. Teachers weren't looking for drugs there, just attitude problems. Well, I was there for 2.5 years- and stoned for over half of that without anyone the wiser. I'm not bragging- looking back, it was monumentally stupid- but it has raised my awareness with my own children. We all know PEI has a severe drug problem- but talking about it isn't going to help. The fact is, we all knew what we were doing- but there was nothing else for us to do. Sports? Great- if you're an athlete. Gen XX? Great- if you skateboard. Drugs aren't about being cool- they're an escape, from life, from the cruelties at school or home, from ourselves. They put us above and beyond ourselves. Blame peer pressure all you want, but that's rarely what it's about. Some of us are just average kids- we're never going to be athletes, we're never going to be chess champions- we're in the middle, and frankly, it sort of sucked. So- give the kids some choices- not just the 'special' ones. Talk all you want- blame who you want- but the fact remains that it will continue to be a large problem on PEI if no actions are taken. Wagging your fingers and saying 'don't do that' isn't going to solve the problem. You want to keep kids off drugs? Trying setting up an alcohol and drug free pool hall, minors only, with couches and chairs and TV's for those who don't want to play pool. Cafeteria style food. Set up corners in the hall- cliques are unavoidable, so adapt, separate. Give teens a place, a safe environment, to hang out. Hire teens to work it, so that kids don't feel like they're under constant supervision. Set up tables for the latest RPG's. Have a small library. Comic books. You get the idea. Yeah, it's expensive- but if everyone is willing to fight for some of that provincial and federal funding, things could happen. It won't keep every kid in Summerside off drugs- but it will reduce numbers drastically. I've seen how it can work here in BC. I know where my daughter is after school. Do you? Choices. Give them one.

  • say what
    January 06, 2011 - 15:19

    I hope all parents go to this meeting naive or not.

  • ToSchoolForCool
    January 06, 2011 - 11:07

    The problem has been at three oaks for way too long, the problem is they spend more time worrying about students cell phones then drugs. Suspending a student with a good average and who goes to school everyday is ridiculous when they want to be there. But yet there is drug dealing in the locker room and the bathrooms every day and they get nothing.

  • Astounded
    January 06, 2011 - 10:16

    The amount of drugs and drug related crime around Summerside is astounding. A great start would be to put the dealers away for a really really long time and dispose of weekend sentences for the repeat offenders who steal to support their drug habit. Sounds simple doesn't it?

  • Unreal
    January 06, 2011 - 09:16

    Great job to Three Oaks but how about starting with the junior high schools, my child tells me on a weekly basis about who is spending their weekends doing drugs, drinking and having sex. Some of those kids are only 13 and 14 years old. It's a darn shame. Parents can be so blind when it comes to their on children. I can be too but i talk about these issues with my children all the time and hope at least some of what i am saying stays with them. Some parents can be to naive. Check up on your children when they say they are going to a friends house for the evening. Talk to the other parents and make sure they are actually going there and ask what the curfew is, but then again nevermind they are out of your hair RIGHT.

  • BM
    January 06, 2011 - 08:53

    This isnt news theres been a problem for years !! at TOSH