Dangerous drugs on campus have kids talking at Vermont high school

BRATTLEBORO, Vermont (WCAX) — An investigation is underway at Brattleboro Union High School regarding possible fentanyl-containing drugs ingested by two students. The children are doing well, but the incident continues to concern the community.

The two recent drug-related medical emergencies have caused this community to do something that students say doesn’t always happen: they talk about it.

“So the last week has been pretty scary,” said Brattleboro Union High School acting principal Cassie Damkoehler.

Damkoehler wrote a letter to parents that she hoped she would never have to send. He informed them that two students had taken pills on campus that were possibly mixed with fentanyl and ended up needing immediate medical attention.

“I also wanted parents to know that we were going to have an open dialogue about this because our students are at an age where I feel like they can and should be able to have these conversations,” Damkoehler said.

That same day, she held assemblies to tell the students exactly what had happened.

“Students who came into my office afterwards said, ‘Thank you, Ms. D. In the past, that would have been an email next week,'” Damkoehler said.

School officials believe the students received the pills from a peer on campus, but declined to provide further details.

The two children who took drugs ended up being fine.

Senior Kaiya Colby is friends with one of them.

“We all saw downtown and all these different neighborhoods where drugs really hit hard. And I never really thought the school would become one of those places,” Colby said.

I was welcomed into the principal’s office, along with some students, to talk about the incident.

Damkoehler says her door is always open when children are in crisis, and she says open dialogue builds trust within the school community.

At one point, Colby spoke directly to her manager and said, “You really managed to quash a lot of the rumors and misconceptions about what happened so quickly and I was really grateful for that. “

“I was scared too,” said Ben Berg, a junior.

Berg and Colby are student representatives on the district school board.

“It’s not a child problem – but as we’ve seen over the last five or 10 years, these non-child problems have been child problems,” Berg said.

“I think it’s important for everyone to know that,” said Rock Weiss, a junior.

Weiss is 16 and an example that kids these days are growing up fast. One of his relatives died of an overdose when he was much younger.

“The more we raise awareness about this in any way possible, so hopefully more people will realize that this is a big deal and shouldn’t be happening here,” Weiss said.

The Brattleboro Police Chief declined to be asked about the incident, however, she told me there was an open and active investigation.

Related story:

2 Vt. students are suffering from medical emergencies possibly related to fentanyl-containing drugs

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