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School Role Is Focus Of Somers Drug Forum

Panelists at the Oct. 7 drug forum at the Somers Community Center were told the school system has not dealt well with drug use.
Panelists at the Oct. 7 drug forum at the Somers Community Center were told the school system has not dealt well with drug use. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

(This is our second story on the forum. For our first story, click here).

SOMERS, N.Y. -- The school system's role was a major topic at an Oct. 7 drug forum in Somers.

Some attendees at the forum, held at the Somers Community Center, were critical of how the school system dealt with drug use. Some argued that there has been denial that there is a problem.

One man who spoke, who declined to give his name, said Somers High School does not want to know about drug use. He also called for tougher punishment for drug dealing.

Somers High School senior Chelsie Von Elm, who had a question that led to the school's conversation, brought up lack of information at the high school level.

One attendee asked what she could do. She was met with a response from Somers resident Carol Christiansen, who lost her son Erik to addiction. Christiansen co-founded the group Drug Crisis in Our Backyard. Christiansen, who said her children went through the Somers school system and that she loves it, called for grassroots organizing. 

Steve Salamone, a Carmel resident and fellow founder of the group, called for parents to be relentless with schools. He said there was resistance from PTAs and PTOs that were approached.

Carol Cirieco, a former PTA council president, brought up declining turnout for drug-related events. She also called for parents to not be the parents of their child's friends.

Kathy Cucchiarella, a member of Somers Partners in Prevention, a forum co-sponsor, said high school principal Mark Bayer "responds to everybody." She also said that going in screaming and yelling means you are not going to get things done.

Somers Police Chief Michael Driscoll said he has walked out of meetings with the schools in past years, characterizing his reaction as "disgusted." However, he argued there has been improvement, saying it is "100 percent better." Driscoll also called for further improvement.

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