Board Asked To Show Opioid Documentary In Schools

NEWARK – Community members approached school system officials this week to encourage more prevention efforts in the growing opioid epidemic.

Ocean City resident Cindy Elliott, accompanied by Ocean City Police Department Corporal James Schwartz, asked the Worcester County Board of Education to consider showing students “Chasing the Dragon,” a documentary meant to educate viewers about the dangers of opioid addiction.

“This film or something similar won’t be the miracle cure but it could be another weapon,” Elliott said.

Elliott told the school board she’d lived in the Ocean City area for 30 years and had raised two children who’d attended local schools.

“What we’re here to discuss is the opioid epidemic in our schools…,” she said. “My family had fallen prey to the monster of this epidemic and it truly is only the grace of God that we are out of that right now and not still within its grasp. It’s a hell beyond belief. I’m not telling any of you anything you’re not aware of.”

She described attending the funeral last week of a friend’s son who’d died after battling opioid addiction.

“This type of story is becoming so common,” she said.

Elliott said “Chasing the Dragon,” the documentary created by the FBI and DEA, showed the reality of drug addiction and, like the wrecked cars shown to students before prom, could be an effective scare tactic. The documentary was recently shown in Ocean City at an event sponsored by the Ocean City Police Department, Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office.

“It’s not a pretty film,” she said. “Neither is the issue.”

She said she simply wanted to encourage officials to do everything they could to address the growing issue.

“Reactionary response to this problem is often to no avail,” she said.

Schwartz, who is vice president of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, reminded everyone present to empty their cabinets of unused medications.

“That’s where it starts,” he said.

He told the board a film like “Chasing the Dragon” could open students’ eyes. He believes it will take a multifaceted approach to address the drug epidemic.

“I think it’d be a great idea to present this video to the students,” he said.

Bill Gordy, president of the school board, thanked Elliott and Schwartz for their comments. He said the board was working with Superintendent Lou Taylor to find a “forward thinking way” to address the problem.

“It’s a devastating problem that we all face,” he said. “It impacts all of us in one way or another.”

Taylor said a committee was currently working on ways for the school system to address the issue.

“I’ve charged a couple of our leaders with putting a program together,” he said.

Taylor added that he had seen the film Elliott referenced.

“The film is very harsh but very good,” he said.

While some parents have expressed concern regarding its content, Taylor said that it would be shown to Snow Hill High School students next week in advance of prom.

“We’re going to survey our kids and see how they react,” he said.

Officials will then determine whether to show the film in other Worcester County schools.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.