School district to hold drug prevention, awareness event Thursday
By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news
Since Ashland school administrators have noticed an uptick in cocaine and fentanyl use, Ashland High School will host a gathering Thursday open to the community intended to inform students and parents of the dangers involved.
“Substance Use Awareness Night” is planned from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at Mountain Avenue Theatre, 201 S. Mountain Ave., at Ashland High.
A number of local agencies will be on hand to share resources, including La Clinica de Valle, Kolpia, potentially local law enforcement, Rogue Valley Mentoring, as well as school administrators and counseling staff.
“We’ve definitely seen an uptick (in cocaine and fentanyl use) and we really wanted to start to put out some good information to kids, to parents, and to our own staff to really start to try and tackle this issue,” said Samuel Bogdanove, superintendent of Ashland School District. “It is a broader community issue and it is affecting our school, and so we felt we really needed to do something significant and this is one piece of that.”
“Our best tools are educating parents, educating our staff, and educating our kids,” he added.
Bogdanove said that, while substance abuse and abuse happen in every community, Ashland schools administration learned this fall from multiple reports from students and Ashland police, “that there was a fair amount of cocaine use among teenagers in the community.”
“A lot are occurring at weekend parties and those kinds of things and then we had a couple of students we were aware may have been selling … and then a couple of notable incidents on and off campus primarily where fights occurred … that was related to an argument over cocaine as I understand it,” he said.
Bogdanove mentioned that Jackson County has witnessed high numbers of fentanyl-related deaths. While all drug use is a concern, he emphasized fentanyl as especially dangerous due to the lethality of the drug.
“I am aware through informal reports that there were individuals soaking marijuana in
fentanyl in our community and selling that, so we all know that the wrong dose of fentanyl
and it just takes one time trying something has resulted in deaths in first-time users,” Bogdanove said. “We don’t want to see that happening to kids.”
He noted a concern also in cocaine use is the expense of the substance.
“I have real questions and concerns about where these kids are getting it, how they’re affording it,” Bogdanove said.
“Cocaine in and of itself has produced lethal results, but if you’re adding fentanyl to it, where the risk of that or other things being cut with it, it’s also a tremendous concern,” he said.
“And wherever it’s coming from within the community is a pretty big concern as well and I don’t have the answers to that.”
Ashland schools work with Max’s Mission to provide Narcan (which administers naloxone, an opioid-overdose antidote) to staff and to families and kids.
The organization will also provide some lock boxes at the event so that families can store their prescription medications safely and securely.
Students and parents can also learn what signs to look for in their respective peers and children for cocaine and fentanyl use.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction and hopefully this is something we can work together as a community to really address,” Bogdanove said.
“It’s really the very beginning of a concerted effort to try and shift this aspect of the culture,” he added later in the interview. “I think it really has to be something that the community as a whole is aware of and is working to address.”
Bogdanove credits AHS Principal Benjamin Bell with helping to organize the event, which is open to the public.
Email Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at email@example.com.