Ok so we’re not quite into graduation season just yet, but it’s still an appropriate time to think about how students and parents can help prepare for the journey ahead. And sadly, in today’s times, that journey may include addiction temptations; particularly when it comes to painkillers and opioids. Schools in New Jersey are already processing that scenario and proposing a radical new step that can help families understand the risks each graduating class can face. Middlesex County school superintendent David Cittadino is behind the movement, which would force parents of middle schoolers to participate in an addiction seminar in exchange for commencement tickets.
Not surprisingly, some people in the community are opposed to the measure, feeling that mandatory measure is unnecessary.
“You shouldn’t be obligated to attend any seminar that needs to happen in order for the parent or guardian to attend a graduation,” local parent Jairo Collantes told New Jersey’s WCBS-TV outlet.
But, there is actually a strong sense of support for it too. Middlesex, in particular, has a very personal connection the country’s opioid crisis. Several parents from that same middle school region have publicly battled addiction and one passed away from an overdose within the past year. Cittadino also pointed out that the seminar that he is pushing for is only an hour long and highly interactive.
Titled Hidden In Plain Sight, the discussion would include a Q&A with a former DEA official, overdose life saving techniques and activities that highlight the warning signs of addiction. It also has the full support of the local PTA.
“I don’t know the signs,”Middle School PTA presidents Francine Miraglia told WCBS. “I think it’s a great thing that they’re having the meeting. I wish they would have had this last year, when my son graduated. I was very naïve in middle school that all this was really even happening.”
Eighth grade happens to be a crucial time in many young lives as well. The journey into high school can include many new peer pressures and the opportunity to fall into the trappings of addiction. Getting parents up to speed on certain signals and response techniques is critical, particularly since this is a newer epidemic that many 3o and 40-somethings haven’t had much experience with.
Cittadino made sure to get the last word with reporters, emphasizing the firsthand dangers he has experienced with the crisis.
“The bottom line is, I have to do something drastic,” he said. “I find myself attending funeral services for students that I was their principal in middle school and high school, and each one takes more and more of a toll on me.”