Coming Together to Combat the Opioid Crisis

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Students from Northport, Huntington and Southampton high schools, along with the hard-hit Tug Valley High School in Kermit, West Virginia, have been working together to address the opioid crisis through a unique exchange program. Northport students, who are a part of the Students for 60,000 Club, visited West Virginia earlier this year on a service trip, and were deeply affected by the magnitude of the crisis. Club advisors Darryl St. George, Karen Paquet and Patricia Ellner coordinated a “student exchange” in which the students from West Virginia came to visit Long Island to discuss realistic steps to solving the crisis.

During the week of July 7, the students met in a variety of forums to learn from each other and discuss ways to address and solve the crisis. Students met with Congressman Thomas Suozzi and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in Huntington to engage in discussion and also visited Southampton High School to hear from local Southampton representatives. Students asked questions, shared personal experiences and offered their thoughts on curtailing opioid use. Ideas included creating more mental health programs in schools and providing a greater sense of purpose for students.

At the end of the week, students spent some time volunteering at the Northport VA.

"Seeing these students come together from all different walks of life was incredibly inspiring,” said Ms. Ellner, “and it was a reminder that our youth’s involvement in meaningful conversations with leaders, as well as their own peers, is a tremendous step towards resolving many of the serious issues that we face as Americans.”