Superintendent's Message

Superintendent Doug Ute

Starting the conversation about addiction

I am often asked about the school’s role in providing our students the necessary support from a social and emotional standpoint. Students who struggle with hunger, clothing or addiction issues are less likely to succeed in the classroom. We want students to succeed in school, at home and in the community.
It is our job to help provide this support, in collaboration with many great community organizations.
Drug addiction affects people nationwide, in communities rich and poor, big and small. Our students are dealing with the outcomes of drug addiction in their lives daily.
While hardly a new issue, it is becoming more apparent every year the need to discuss this important issue openly. 
On Wednesday, April 26, we are hosting a daylong series of events meant to bring the issue into the open, called Starting Conversations. This will culminate in an evening event that will include Wayne Campbell, from Tyler’s Light.
Initially, Sam Quinones — the author of the book Dreamland — was going to be heavily involved in our day. Unfortunately, Mr. Quinones is now unable to attend due to a health issue. We still hope to bring Sam to Newark later this year.
I was lucky enough to see Mr. Quinones speak last year, and his story was eye-opening. Dreamland chronicles the history of opium and the ways in which the drug has spread throughout the country. His account of how black tar heroin invaded our communities — assisted by the over-prescription of drugs like OxyContin — is, quite frankly, scary. Drugs are easier to access than ever before.
Drugs are impacting students’ lives at home, which impacts their success in school and later in life. A student who is worrying about struggles at home finds it difficult to concentrate and have hope for the future.
Particularly worrying to me is the way that prescribed opiates can foster addiction and serve as a gateway to heroin. It always scares me to think of a high school student being prescribed a drug like OxyContin after an injury.
That is what happened to Tyler Campbell, whose father Wayne started the group Tyler’s Light after Tyler’s accidental overdose death. Tyler, a standout athlete from Pickerington with a football scholarship at the University of Akron, became addicted to pain killers after an injury in college. His situation spiraled until the overdose. Addiction is a disease that impacts people from all walks of life.
We are honored to have Mr. Campbell coming to White Field on April 26 to deliver his message to high school students from across Licking County, and later in the evening to the broader public.
We are inviting the Licking County community to Newark High School at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, to hear Wayne speak.
The entire day will be devoted to Starting Conversations on drugs in our community. We are thankful for the support from our local businesses and community service agencies to make this day a success. 
This is an important issue, and it is just the beginning of the conversation. We hope that your will join in. 

Doug Ute
Superintendent
April 2017 
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