It’s Time to Take Stock: Students, Stress, and Drugs


Recent Adderall bust raises questions about school climate

Paikowski - Editorial Pic - ResizedBy Miranda Paikowski, Current Staff

Sometimes it’s tough to look in the mirror. When students choose to make poor decisions, it serves as an opportunity for the school district to reflect on its own culpability.

According to Superintendent Ted Neitzke, over 12 students at the West Bend High Schools have been part of an investigation dealing with self-medicating with Adderall. Some of these students illegally took the drug because they had heard about it from an older sibling, or had knowledge that one of their friends had access to Adderall. Many students who were involved, however, chose to engage in the activity as a way to deal with stress or to acquire an academic gain.

Many students who took Adderall or were involved in distributing the drug shocked the district. “The reason the district responded so quickly was because these were not the type of students we had ever expected to be involved,” Neitzke said.

While the students did make the ultimate decision in this illegal activity, there is a shared responsibility.

It is necessary to ask what led these students to take Adderall to begin with. The students affected came as a complete shock to the district, as they take advanced classes and are otherwise responsible individuals. The fact that this sort of hard-working student was involved made the district question its role in the situation, and make a plan to ensure the safety of all students at the high school.

The students who desired an academic edge turned to the drug in hopes of improving their schoolwork. They did not take the drug because they had given up on trying; instead, it was their attempt at future success. The activity, though reckless, was intended by the students to end their struggle with schoolwork and to fight stress.

This false perception of drugs by students caused the district to question its own education on drugs. It then had to think of solutions to further educate students at WBHS about the dangers of self-medication.

The Adderall issue emerged from a stressful environment within the school, so that environment is what should be given the most attention.

How does the district plan to deal with a situation such as this and prevent it from happening again?

After this incident occurred, the district immediately took action by having teachers read a statement about the dangers of self-medication to their students. Also, parents were informed about the situation with a letter from the district. The district’s plan to prevent drug usage does not end there.

“The district will take a much firmer stand on all drugs,” Neitzke said.

It is not just Adderall that’s the problem; the district plans on combating all drug distribution in the school.

From now on, the district plans on having an increased number of random checks during the day. Also, many teachers will be highly educated on drugs, which will enable them to know when a student is under the influence of drugs.

That’s a good start.

Still, the natural question is whether or not this is enough to fix the problem altogether. The issue of Adderall distribution relates back to the topic of stress, which seems to be infectious in our school, as students feel they have no way to combat feelings of stress.

Erin Melvin, an East sophomore, said, “I do sports year-round, and I feel like it’s often really hard to balance school and sports.”

She is not the only one. Many students, especially with finals coming up, feel that there is no balance between schoolwork and other activities. The district should not be just focusing on the issue of drug usage. Administrators should also address the underlying issue, and consider whether the district has cultivated an overly stressful climate, demanding too much of students through excessive workloads, AP schedules, and testing.

To lessen stress levels, the district should encourage teachers to ask students if they need additional guidance in their schoolwork. If students find their teachers to be more approachable, they will get more help and feel relief from stress. The district is also thinking about opening a mental health clinic for struggling students. If this becomes a reality in the high schools, more students will feel more open to getting help from a professional instead of self-medicating.

The Adderall issue emerged from a stressful environment within the school, so that environment is what should be given the most attention.

While the district did reflect on its faults, it needs to look once again in the mirror, and go deeper when considering solutions to drug use.

(Adviser’s note: The West Bend School District has announced plans for a community conversation about drug abuse, to be held at Badger Middle School on June 18.)


Filed under School News and Features, Viewpoint

4 responses to “It’s Time to Take Stock: Students, Stress, and Drugs

  1. Terry Krueger

    I appreciate that you wrote on a difficult subject; however, I’m disappointed to hear that the finger is pointed at the school system rather than the students themselves who knowingly made bad choices. I’m also disappointed to see that we are shocked that “good” kids were involved which is why the school system gets questioned. Miranda, are you trying to say that because schools set the bar high and challenge students we are setting them up to take these drugs to enhance their performance? Or are your arguing that we don’t educate enough on the dangers of drugs? Either way, what is your solution?

  2. It is unfortunate that students feel the need to take these powerful stimulants to help them improve their grades. I think for many young people it is also about the rush of doing illegal drugs and taking a drug that they know shouldn’t be taking. Seems like schools have been specifically looking for kids dealing Adderall and Ritalin. I wonder if they will ever test for these drugs?

  3. Jason Penterman

    Read Mike Males’ Framing Youth: 10 Myths About the Next Generation.

    This generation uses drugs and engages in far less illegal activity than prior generations due in part to advances in education, raising the drinking age to 21 (alcohol is the gateway drug) and enforcing the law when it comes to access to Tobacco. When youth make poor choices, what can we do to get them back on a better path without casting them into the lot we have given up on and restricting their access to a better, more productive future?

  4. Al Jung

    I disagree that the district has cultivated an overly stressful environment. The district is providing opportunity. Unfortunately, it may be parents who are pushing our young people. And it may be the students themselves who feel like they have to do everything. And on a bigger picture, it may be our society. But that doesn’t mean they can use that as an excuse. They must understand that choices have consequences and they must know that they will be held accountable for their choices. On the other hand, I have heard about and seen the indifference of some of our educators and this must definitely be addressed.

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