The following story first appeared in the Eagle Observer in 2009. The impact on the community was so great in that at year's end, we followed up to bring you the latest on the issue.
News of alarmingly high prescription drug abuse in local schools gained attention in late 2008, when a student at Marcellus High School suffered a drug overdose while at school. Four students were arrested in connection to the incident, and similar stories of students misusing prescription drugs quickly began surfacing in other Central New York Schools.
In Marcellus, the schools and community made great strides in 2009 to shed light on the problem and begin to solve it. In April, the school hosted retired DEA agent Robert Stutman, who spoke to students during the day and gave a public lecture in the evening about the growing prescription drug abuse problem across the country.
The Marcellus Village Board approved a plan in July to place uniformed Marcellus police officers back into the district's school buildings as school resource officers. The department, village and school has since worked together to put three officers in school buildings in 2009; the district had gone without its previous one school resource officer in the 2008-09 school year due to budget shortfalls.
Tying the community's efforts together is a group of concerned residents who began meeting in the summer to address the drug problem. The Marcellus FACTS group -- "Marcellus families and community together with our schools to prevent substance abuse by our youth" -- will hold its first public meeting next week.
John Dorio, a group member and parent of three Marcellus students, said the meeting would hopefully raise awareness about teen drug abuse.
"We need to get educated," Dorio said. "How do you solve a problem you don't fully understand?"