Updated 6/12/12 at 12:30 a.m.
High school students under pressure to get good grades and achieve entrance to competitive colleges are turning to prescription stimulants, and Lower Merion School District is no exception, according to a recent article in The New York Times.
District spokesman Doug Young told the Times many parents seem largely unaware of the issue and that drug abuse is discussed in 10th grade health class and in other initiatives.
“It’s time for a serious wake-up call,” Young told the Times. “Straight A’s and high SAT scores look great on paper, but they aren’t reflective measures of a student’s health and well-being. We need to better understand the pressures and temptations, and ultimately we need to embrace new definitions of student success. For many families and communities, that’s simply not happening.”
One Lower Merion High School student, who declined to be named for the New York Times article, described how he lies to his psychiatrist in order to receive unncessary prescriptions and said he sells the drugs for $5 to $20 per pill—amounting to hundreds of dollars in business a week.
“This is an area of great concern for us,” Lower Merion School District superintendent Christopher McGinley said at the school board’s business meeting Monday night, referencing the New York Times article.
McGinley said the district is "very much aware of the issue" and takes a preventative view. “From elementary school on, we have an array of programs that focus on supporting students and helping them to make great decisions," he said.
While the district is committed to changing the paradigm that "success" means a 4.0 GPA, that effort must go beyond the classroom, involving parents and health care providers, McGinley said.
"We’re working on it, and we’re saddened to know that what was in that article yesterday is absolutely true," McGinley said.