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Keene State Presents Panel on High School Substance Abuse

August 20, 2013
KHS parent Cindy Stewart (left) speaking at the Substance Abuse Panel. Beside her are former KHS Resource Officer Matt Griffin and KHS Principal Lynne Wagner.
KHS parent Cindy Stewart (left) speaking at the Substance Abuse Panel. Beside her are former KHS Resource Officer Matt Griffin and KHS Principal Lynne Wagner.

Dr. Marjorie Droppa and Students to Conduct Substance Abuse Research During Fall Semester

On Tuesday, August 27, Keene State College presented a panel discussion on high school substance abuse to raise awareness and inform student research that will be conducted during the fall semester at Keene State. The panel, which was open to the public and included discussion about Keene High School, brought together law enforcement officials, parents, Keene education professionals, and community partners for a number of perspectives on the problem, and potential solutions. Research shows that New Hampshire has a higher than average occurrence of high school substance abuse in the nation. Keene High School has a higher incidence of certain kinds of substance abuse than the rest of New Hampshire, including alcohol and cocaine use.

Keene State College Health Science Assistant Professor, Dr. Marjorie Droppa, facilitated the panel. “Never before have we seen such an alarming rate of substance abuse in high schools. In order to find solutions, we must first identify the root cause of the problem, and it takes the whole community, working together, to solve the problem,” said Dr. Droppa. “Changing policy is one of the best ways to change behavior – our research is an important step in achieving this goal. I believe that the research we will do in the fall will have a real impact on how high school substance abuse is treated in the future.”

The panel event marked the beginning of a semester-long research project for 10 health science seniors. Keene State students will survey up to 40 Keene High School student volunteers to learn about substance abuse and the conditions that foster abuse in the high school. The Keene State students will also survey 10 parents of Keene High students who are not necessarily related to the KHS student volunteers. The final research outcome will be a report that outlines the root causes of substance abuse at Keene High School, which will be presented to the Keene Board of Education in December 2013.

Panel participants included:

• Lauren Bressett, Monadnock Alcohol and Drug Abuse Coalition
• Chris Coates, Chair of Keene Board of Education
• Lynne Wagner, Keene High School Principal
• Janis Manwaring, Keene City Council member, Ward 1
• Trisha Lucas, Advocacy Director, New Futures (nonprofit that fights alcohol and drug problems in New Hampshire)
• Matt Griffin, Keene Police Officer and former Keene HS Resource Officer
• Cindy Stewart, local parent
• Ken Meola, Keene Police Chief
• Polly Morris, Coordinator for Monadnock Voices for Prevention (nonprofit that works to reduce substance abuse in the Mondanock region)
• Linda Rubin, community health expert