WRLHS gets grant to educate about opioids

School principal to present information, alternatives in weekend workshop
By: 
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Wolf River Lutheran High School is sounding the alarm about the opioid crisis and how, even in Shawano County, the drug problem has taken hold.

The school recently received a $5,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to educate students and the community about drugs in general with an emphasis on opioids. Principal Shellie Kosmerchock recently went through an eight-hour training session to learn the latest on opioids, signs that teens are using them and what parents and others can do if they sense someone is on opioids.

Kosmerchock is holding three in-school workshops in February. One addresses opioids, the second concerns marijuana and the third discusses vaping.

“With our kids, they have to take a pre-test, a post-test, and then they have to create a wellness plan,” Kosmerchock said.

Kosmerchock will also be leading a community workshop from 9-11 a.m. March 2 at WRLHS, W7467 River Bend Road, Shawano, to discuss opioids in a format geared to parents. She noted that the workshop is not restricted to families with students at her school but is open to the entire community, for anyone who wants to listen.

“The rationale is to make parents aware,” Kosmerchock said to explain why she applied for the DPI grant. “This information is from the Prevention Plus Wellness program.”

Kosmerchock said the information will help parents ensure their teens are leading “a healthy life.” She noted that the school has not dealt with any opioid problems on campus so far, but that the students are dealing a lot with anxiety and depression, both of which can lead people to turn to drugs for a solution.

“It leads them to do unhealthy things in their lives,” Kosmerchock said. “The program here gives them tools, and for the parents, it’s to promote healthiness in their students so they’ll be able to see signs.”

Kosmerchock said many parents are unaware of the dangers of opioids. She noted there’s plenty of education out there about hard drugs, but opioids tend to be more insidious.

“A lot of it is the prescription drugs,” Kosmerchock said. “It’s not even so much the heroin or the oxy(codone) on the street or whatever. It’s from their friends.”

The benefit of Prevention Plus Wellness is that it doesn’t just preach that drugs are bad. Kosmerchock said it also provides healthy alternatives to dealing with anxiety and depression.

The community workshop is expected to talk about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, survey parents on their knowledge about opioids, give positive messages that can be passed on to teens, symptoms of drug abuse and tips on what to do if someone overdoses on opioids.

“This is to give them resources that they’ll be able to learn from,” Kosmerchock said. “There isn’t as much opioid use or deaths in our areas as there are in other areas, but it’s still there. It’s still happening.”

lpulaski@newmedia-wi.com