Templeton school district combats drug use

Officials describe a rise in the use of pot and are fighting back with new programs

tstrickland@thetribunenews.comMay 6, 2013 

Since winter break, three or four Templeton High School students have been caught with marijuana on campus.

More alarming, the plant-based drug is widely accepted by students as beneficial, said David Rowe, the school’s resource officer and a San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputy.

Teens are knowledgeable about marijuana, he said, and the vast majority of students he’s spoken with smoke the drug outside high school on a day-to-day basis, even before and after homework.

Given this, the Templeton Unified School District plans to start new drug and alcohol awareness programs next fall aimed at middle school students.

“With budget cuts, we let it get off our radar in the last two to three years, and this is us realizing we can’t let it get off our radar,” Superintendent Joe Koski said.

Drugs haven’t been found at the elementary and middle schools, Rowe said.
The high school has a zero-tolerance policy for such drugs, leading to suspension or expulsion, Principal Andrew Cherry said.

Methamphetamine, heroin and prescription pills are also the most common drugs used in the Templeton community, Rowe said, but those largely have not touched the high school.

Once associated with the hippie movement, he said marijuana isn’t used by a particular crowd today.

“It’s completely blended into the mainstream students. College-bound students, everyone,” Rowe said.

Templeton teens buy marijuana that has been grown locally in closets and outdoors. And Rowe said

it’s clean — it’s not coming from the low-grade bricks laced with fillers that the Mexican panga boats have hauled up to the Central Coast in recent years.

It’s typically sold in vacuum-sealed bags containing one-eighth or one-quarter of an ounce of marijuana that Templeton students call “20 sacks,” typically costing $20.

Teens typically smoke the drug from a water bong or hollowed-out apples or carrots, Rowe said.

One aspect that school leaders want parents to know is that dealers are using Facebook to find local teens.

“Basically, they just cast a net and spread it out until they identify someone who wants to buy something,” Koski said.

Koski also wants to help parents learn what to do at a drug awareness talk Rowe presented in April to parents at the school.

“We really tried to communicate that as a parent, you’re typically paying for the child’s cellphone and their data plan, so you should be checking it regularly,” Koski said.

The district will do its part by creating new drug awareness programs this fall.

The first is a sixth-grade elective that will warn students about drug and alcohol dangers by presenting statistics about teen drug use as well as examples of the effects of drugs and tips on how to respond to peer pressure.

The latter is one reason school leaders “feel it’s important to start raising awareness in the sixth grade,” middle school counselor Kim Scott said.

Nutrition, conflict resolution, social media and cyberbullying will also be addressed in the new class.

The topics will also be presented to other middle school students through classroom presentations, she said.

Several parents declined to comment for this story.

Stay connected with Tonya Strickland with @tstrickland on Twitter and www.facebook.com/

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