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Hatboro-Horsham School District Outlines Anti-Drug Initiative

The “Be a Part of the Conversation” program calls for community involvement.

launched its “Be a Part of the Conversation” anti-drug initiative at a community presentation Tuesday night, urging parents, teachers and friends to help combat student substance abuse with education and community involvement.

“If not you, who? If not now, when?” Addiction counselor A. Michael Blanche, asked, as he stood at the lectern in the auditorium.

About 80 community members attended the presentation to hear district administrators, parents and drug educators outline the importance of drug education and how parents can recognize signs of drug addiction. 

The district launched a “Be a Part of the Conversation” Web page that explains drug use and provides student and community resources. At least three more community events will be held in the coming academic year, most likely in October, December and April.

John Nodecker, Hatboro-Horsham assistant superintendant for secondary education, said he wants to integrate drug awareness into the curriculum and physical education classes. “We want to make it a comprehensive approach,” he said.

According to Nodecker, he and his colleagues created the initiative in response to state and local studies that showed no recent decline in drug use.

A 2009 study by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Dependency showed that almost 10 percent of students statewide indicated that they were drunk or high at school that year. The number is 7 percent for Hatboro-Horsham.

It could start because of anxiety or a desire to fit in, said speaker George Wattles, an Episcopal Academy teacher and parent of a son recovering from drug addiction. 

“Parents of children using, we don’t know how to handle it,” he said.

Wattles urged parents to watch for behavioral changes like a child gaining a new group of friends, reclusive behavior, or money disappearing from the house.  Many parents mistake substance-abuse issues for mental health issues, said Blanche.

We live in a pharmaceutical age where kids are surrounded by drugs, and “the misinformation highway that we call the Internet” makes it easy for people to learn how to extract hallucinogens from over-the-counter drugs, Blanche said.  

The “Be a Part of the Conversation” Web page hosts a video where students and parents explain local drug culture and why students use drugs. 

“I am so thrilled to live in a community where the school district is shining a light on this,” said Kim Rubenstein, the initiative’s parent liaison who appears in the video.

According to the district’s Director of Security, Al Hall, from here the district will review proposals to find speakers and activities for the initiative’s meetings in this coming academic year, such as law enforcement officials and addiction specialists.

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