Principal: student arrests a teachable moment

December 20, 2017 08:03 PM

CLIFTON PARK - Three students at Shenendehowa High School are accused of bringing drugs to school and in some cases selling them.

The Saratoga County Sheriff's Department says 17-year-old Christian Newkirk had a hallucinogenic substance with him.

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Two other boys, both 15-year-old students, have also been charged with sale of a controlled substance. Their names are not being released because of their age.

Substance abuse on the Shenendehowa campus, just like any other high school campus in America, according Shenendehowa Principal Ron Agostinoni, isn't rare and it isn't rampant. It's some place in between.

"Whenever you get a bunch of young people together, I think the potential exists whether it be Shen High School students or any high school or a bunch of students out shopping together," Agostinoni says.

Agostinoni believes high school campuses are nothing more than a microcosm of American society, and his chief concern is that while vaping is on the rise across the country, so too are the variety of substances that people are now inhaling, which includes marijuana, morphine, and liquid cocaine.

"A quick search of the internet (shows) students inhaling all types of synthetic drugs," Agostinoni points out, "It's not just nicotine and oil. There is other stuff taking place."

Now that school officials have identified the problem, they want to make sure they take advantage of an opportunity.

"In the school business," he says, "everything is a teachable moment. We try to use any avenue we can to connect with parents or students and we have things happen and they become teachable moments. We're negligent if we don't teach from those moments."

To that end, the district has sent letters to parents, encouraging them to talk to their kids about the dangers of substance abuse. They're also trying to reiterate to kids, it's ok to say something if they see something.

The position of school officials is that students to come forward with information aren't tattling, they're helping to keep people safe.



WNYT Staff

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