Dear Osprey Students and Families,
This fall we shared a letter with you reporting our work with students around substance awareness. We want to share some updates on this issue.
First of all, to clarify our policies around drug, alcohol and tobacco use: We believe that it is harmful for teens whose brains are still developing to partake in drugs and alcohol. Teens’ judgement can become impaired, resulting in dire consequences. In addition, it is illegal for minors under 21 years of age to partake in drugs and alcohol. The school policy is that drug, alcohol and tobacco use is prohibited on our campus.
With that being said, we realize that many teens will experiment with drugs and alcohol outside of school and want to provide our students with up-to-date, research-based information so they can make healthy, informed choices for themselves. We are working toward these goals in a number of ways this semester, including the following:
• Screening of a student-created film at our all-school NEST Meeting this week exploring marijuana’s impact on health, relationships and future opportunities. The students who made the film facilitated an all-school conversation afterwards, and advisors followed up with another conversation during advisory, allowing us to help students discuss the issues and hear the message that there are significant risks and consequences to using marijuana as a teen.
• San Juan Basin Health Department (SJBH) will do a presentation for 9th through 11th grade students about teen vaping and e-cigarette use during XBlock over the next two weeks, sharing information with students about emerging research on the health impacts of vaping, as well as how e-cigarette companies target young people in their advertising
• SJBH will present “Know the Facts: Teen Vaping and E-Cigarette Use.”Cigarette Use” on Wednesday, March 9, 5:30-6:30pm at AHS for parents and guardians. Topics will include: What are the health impacts of e-cigarette and vape pen use? What substances are teens vaping? What are the laws around using these devices? What does emerging research say? How does marketing target teens and young adults?
• La Plata County Judge Martha T. Minot will visit with seniors during Humanities classes next week to share her expertise and perspective about the legal issues surrounding drug and alcohol use among teens under and over 18.
• “How to Talk about Drug and Alcohol Use as a Family,” on Tuesday, March 22 from 5:30-6:30 at AHS for parents and guardians. AHS School Counselor Arava Geva will offer tips on how to have supportive, honest and productive conversations about drug and alcohol use/abuse.
• All students completed the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey this fall, a statewide survey administered locally by Celebrating Healthy Communities. We are waiting for the results, which will provide us with valuable information about how much our students are engaging in risky behavior, including drug, alcohol and tobacco use.
• The Science, Economics and Politics of Drugs Exploratory is being offered this quarter by chemistry teacher Steve Smith. Topics include: the capture of El Chapo, reading excerpts from the Rolling Stone interview: the chemical structure of organic molecules including common illicit drugs: possible medicinal uses and the potential rescheduling of psilocybin (magic mushrooms), reading abstracts from peer-review journals and science reporting; the science of fermentation and distillation in making alcohol; the long-term effects of alcohol and marijuana use and abuse on the body.
We also want to let you know about a community-wide opportunity to be part of this conversation. Lynn Riemer, founder of ACT on Drugs, will speak with parents about teen drug use next Monday, February 22, from 6:00 to 7:30pm at the Durango Recreation Center. This important seminar, sponsored by San Juan BOCES, will include information on alcohol, marijuana , “spice,” heroin, salvia, mushrooms, ecstasy, inhalants (“huffing”), cocaine, methamphetamines and prescription drugs. Riemer will discuss what the drugs looks like, how long they stay in the system and the physical, speech and performance indicators of someone under the influence of the various drugs.
Teen use and abuse of drugs, alcohol and tobacco is a complex, multifaceted issue; we are approaching this issue holistically while giving a clear message that drug and alcohol use can distract from learning and potentially cause health and safety problems. We welcome your feedback and involvement as we continue to engage our student body, giving them the tools and resources they need to make healthy, intentional and informed choices. Thank you for your continued participation in this important work of raising responsible young adults.
Sean Woytek, Head of School
Libby Cowles, Assistant Head of School