Fighting the drug problem at CVHS

CVHS students have received 23 suspensions for drug and alcohol use in the spring semester so far, a dramatic increase from 14 such suspensions in the fall semester. The increase has the school administration and staff concerned for the health and safety of students.

Although tobacco use by high school students has dramatically decreased over the past several years, the types of substances such as marijuana, Molly (MDMA), and alcohol have increased. According to the California Healthy Kids Survey, the number of people who see student alcohol and drug use at CVHS as a severe problem has increased from 8 percent in the 2008-2009 school year to 21 percent in the 2013-2014 school year. Fortunately, the number of those who viewed tobacco use as a severe problem at CVHS was a 0 percent in both surveys.

It is hard to tell exactly how severe the drug and alcohol problem is at CVHS, but it is obvious to school administration that action needs to be taken.

“When we have multiple incidents over one month it definitely raises my concern,” said Principal Blaine Torpey.

A plan including drug dogs and education about substance abuse is being devised to prevent drug and alcohol use in the future.

The first part of this plan was put into place toward the end of April, when Assistant Principal Jesse Hansen made a series of announcements warning students of the punishments given to those who participate in substance abuse on campus and during lunch, as well as other acts such as sexual assault and truancy. He also urged students to make good choices, despite the excitement of this school year coming to an end.

As for the drug dogs, “CVHS has drug dogs on campus once a semester,” said Torpey. The dog has not yet been on campus second semester, so students can expect to see one before the end of this school year.

The rapidly approaching Senior Ball, which will take place May 16, is generating particular concern. Measures will be taken before and during the ball to ensure the seniors have a fun, safe, and drug-free prom.

“Students are always subject to search,” said Torpey. “We’d also like to have a breathalyzer to create more awareness about having a safe prom.”

Security around the prom will also be increased.

Hopefully, a breathalyzer will prevent students from arriving to the dance under the influence, but there is one drawback to this protective measure: breathalyzers are only capable of detecting alcohol, so students under the influence of illegal drugs such as Molly would pass the test.

Although Senior Ball is the main focus of the school’s drug-prevention efforts at the moment, plans concerning next year are already being considered. “We are looking to take a more proactive, educational approach starting next year,” said Torpey.

Students starting substance abuse may not be aware of the severe health consequences. Even marijuana, which is seen by many as “harmless,” can lower your IQ by eight points and increases your risk of a heart attack.

Along with health consequences, students will be made aware of punishments given to those who participate in the use of illegal drugs or alcohol on campus. These include suspension, expulsion, the inability to attend school functions such as Junior Prom and Senior Ball, and the inability to walk the stage at graduation.

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