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.