For parents, it can be difficult to imagine your child or someone you know in high school could be on drugs. However, high school is a time of growth and for many students it is also an experimental time.

Sadly, last month Santa Monica High School Freshman, Andre Zuczek passed away as a result of drug use. He fell from a third-floor apartment while trying the drug LSD and suffered major brain trauma.

Zuczeks’ mother sent a letter to the school encouraging the community to talk about Andre with kids, friends, and family. The School Board took up her instructions at their most recent meeting.

In addition to a moment of silence for Zuczek and his family, the Board discussed the district’s current policies.

According to nationwide research, there are many teens just like Zuczek, who are using drugs at a young age and the trend isn’t slowing down. Data from www.TeenRehabCenter.org, showed a quarter of American high school students use at least one type of illicit drug.

The statistics also showed almost 50% of high school senior have abused a drug of some kind. Over 60% of teens report that drugs of some kind are kept, sold and used at their school. Lastly 8.6% of 12th graders have used hallucinogens, while 4% report on using LSD specifically.

The Board along with the District as a whole said they were saddened by the local death, especially when it can be prevented.

“It would be great for the Board to know what type of drug prevention, and addiction awareness programs we have,” said Boardmember Oscar de la Torre. “I think we do justice to this young man if we at least start there. We should at least get an assessment of where we are at, in terms of our prevention strategy.”

Currently the CLARE Foundation partners with SMMUSD. They offer a program otherwise known as Clarity for Youth. It is integrated into classrooms and after school programs offering students prevention skills through interactive classroom sessions.

Since the incident, The City and the Santa Monica Police Department have both offered to partner with the school district on this issue. Some parents and teachers who are involved in Samohi PTSA are planning a parent workshop for May 9, to discuss and learn about drug, alcohol prevention and education.

Individual schools and the district are now reviewing current prevention programming on the campuses and a report will be compiled to give to district administration and the school board in the coming months.

“We appreciate the sense of community and support over this issue that was triggered by the death of Samohi student Andre Zuczek,” said SMMUSD Community and Public Relations Officer, Gail Pinsker.

Nothing is finalized, but some of the coordination may happen while students and staffs are on spring break. More information will be provided after break.

marina@smdp.com

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