By Allison Collins
OTEGO – Unatego Central School’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club hosted a Monday screening of the FBI documentary on heroin and opioid addiction, “Chasing the Dragon” for roughly 245 students in grades 9 through 12. School officials, SADD members and Unatego students said the screening and follow-up panel discussion were part of delivering a much-needed message on addiction.
Unatego Superintendent Dr. David Richards said, while heroin and opioid addiction isn’t a significant problem among the student population specifically, Unatego students are nevertheless affected by the crisis.
“We’ve been fortunate and we have great kids that have stayed relatively away from the opioid epidemic,” Richards said. “But I do know there are many, many families in our communities that are impacted, with extended family members or parents or grandparents who are addicted, so it impacts our kids.” Richards, who first saw the documentary during Sidney Central School’s Nov. 15 screening, added, “I thought it was an important message that we needed to send to our students.”
SADD faculty advisor at Unatego, Sherry Maruszewski, said, after seeing the film with Richards in November, she was equally motivated.
“I didn’t think our kids had had this kind of message before,” she said, “and I felt it was important to bring it back.” Maruszewski said, “I don’t think we are immune. (The epidemic) has definitely affected us.” Maruszewski added that, together with the seven-person SADD group, she spent “a couple of months” organizing Monday’s assembly.