Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
L-S parents advised about detecting illegal drug use
BY CINDY HUMMEL, Correspondent
Any Lampeter-Strasburg High School student can buy drugs right outside school if he or she knows the right person, according to a Lancaster County drug task force member.
"There is a drug problem at L-S," the officer told about 50 high school parents on Feb. 7.
The officer, who did not want to be identified by name, said L-S is not alone. Drugs are everywhere, he said.
In the district, the officer said, he arrested two recent graduates who had three pounds of marijuana. He caught a 30-year-old user and his 15-year-old supplier. One of the biggest busts the officer was involved in occurred in Pioneer Woods, which is not far from Pioneer Field, he said.
Maria Ronneburger, president of the L-S Parent Teacher Organization, researched the drug problem in the area and made it her mission to inform other parents. A year ago, she invited speakers on a night solely for the purpose to learn about drugs. Fifteen people attended.
This time around, Ronneburger brought speakers in on a winter back-to-school night at the high school. Parents heard a brief introduction and were able to see drugs and drug paraphernalia first-hand at the beginning of the night.
Most of the parents returned, after meeting with teachers, to hear the drug task force member and Dr. Michael Reihart, an EMS medical director.
The officer described to parents some warning signs that their children might be using drugs. Those signs include glassy eyes, slurred speech, suddenly dropping grades and poor hygiene. Other signs are boxes of plastic bags and electronic scales.
Drug manufacturers have come up with creative ways to disguise synthetic drugs, he said.
One bath-salts manufacturer markets its product as bubble gum-flavored potpourri that is not intended for human consumption.
The officer said the 1.2-gram packets are suspicious when one questions why a product not for eating would be flavored, and why such a tiny amount of potpourri would cost $30.
Bath salts also go by brand names such as Bolivian Bath and Garden Fuel.
Parents learned how drugs can be hidden in highlighters and hollowed-out cigars. Drugs have even been found suspended by a string in air ducts.
Another menace is in the form of synthetic drugs. A chemist can change one minor part of an illegal drug to make it legal, Reihart said.
Reihart gave a presentation on the effects of drug use. Users can begin stuttering and loose control of brain function and bodily control. Sometimes they die.
Pleased with the parent turnout, Reihart said his goal in giving presentations is to prevent one drug-related death.
L-S high school nurse Teddy Book told parent that the district's random drug tests give students a way to avoid peer pressure, which is the number-one reason people start using drugs.
Book said that by law, the district cannot test all students. It can provide student numbers of those who participate in extracurricular activities or drive to school. The testing facility randomly picks numbers, and those students are tested.
In 2009-10, one student had a confirmed positive result, out of 240 tested, according to Superintendent Kevin Peart.
In 2010-11, two students out of 280 had a confirmed positive result, and in 2011-12, the number was three out of 140 tested.
Results from the current school year are not yet available.