Thinking Of Using Opiates? #NotEvenOnce

School Business Administrator James Edwards, right, receives a Certificate of Excellence for Financial Reporting for the 2016 school year from Board President John Lamela on the left. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – The Board of Education approved an opiate awareness program for high school students that was developed by the Manchester Township Police Department, and has been adapted by the Brick Police Department who would be presenting it to students starting in September.

“#NotEvenOnce,” an interactive course that is a collaborative effort between law enforcement and educators, has the goal of informing students about the dangers of opiates before they leave for college or enter the workforce.

“Opiate abuse in Ocean County is rampant, and is a very dangerous situation for our young people,” said Acting Superintendent of Schools Dennis Filippone during the August 10 Board of Education meeting.

He said that the opiate crisis is one of the most serious threats to ever come before students.

The #NotEvenOnce program defines opiates; explains the causes of addiction and the cycle of addiction; details what the consequences are of using opiates and other drugs; identifies crimes that the use of heroin leads to; discusses resources for addiction and how to prevent it, and much more.

There is also an opportunity for students to interact with a live guest speaker to better understand a personal journey of battling heroin addiction.

At the completion of the program, students will understand that beating an addiction requires outside intervention, a strong commitment, treatment, and the support of family and friends.

They will learn how to develop and implement a healthy decision-making plan, and will learn about the immediate and long-term consequences of risky behavior associated with substance abuse.

The program meets the NJ Student Learning Standards for health classes.

Brick Police Chief James Riccio would authorize six police officers to educate high school juniors and seniors on opiate abuse, and after the program is over students would have the tools to discuss their issues and seek help, Filippone said.

“We hope to [eventually] slide it down to the entire high school community and to the middle schools,” he added.

The administrators who brought this program to the high schools also discussed having a parent night to discuss opiate abuse, said director of curriculum Susan McNamara.

“There are a lot of resources in this county with people who are willing to help coordinate programs that include parents,” she said.

In other news, more than a dozen facilities projects have been underway over the summer and should be completed before school starts.

The largest projects include the roof replacement at Warren Wolf Elementary School ($1,415,000), a new track at Brick High School ($861,100), repaving the Veteran’s Complex parking lot ($687,213), and repaving the east parking lot of Brick High School ($425,213).

Smaller projects include some outside work at Brick Memorial High School, including asphalt repair at the rear of the school ($15,000), the replacement of six storm grates ($24,000), and masonry repair work ($7,500).

Other masonry and concrete work is taking place at Lake Riviera Middle School ($5,000); at the Board offices ($5,000); and at Emma Havens Young Elementary School ($7,500).

The gym bleachers at Lake Riviera Middle School are being repaired ($7,000); Emma Havens Young Elementary School will have a new drop down screen installed to replace a bi-fold door ($20,000); fire equipment, district-wide ($15,000); Lake Riviera gym floor ($25,000); Midstreams Elementary School gym floor and stage repair ($7,500); and the replacement and installation of new overhang lights at Veterans Memorial Middle School ($5,000).

Board Member and Facilities Chair John Barton said that all the projects are coming in on time and under budget.

The 2017-2018 school year officially begins for teachers on September 1 when they have a professional staff day, and the first day for students is the day after Labor Day, Tuesday, September 5.

The next Board of Education meeting will be in Brick High School on Thursday, September 14 at 7 p.m.

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Judy moved to Ocean County from New York City in 1988, and began her second career as a feature and news reporter in the mid-1990's. She has worked for Micromedia Publications since 2008, primarily reporting for The Toms River Times and The Brick Times. Judy has also worked for The Leader Review in Point Pleasant Beach, The Brick Communicator and The Asbury Park Press. Reach Judy by e-mail at [email protected]