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