Message from Stillwater School Superintendent

Dear Salem Lutheran School Families,

Denise Pontrelli, Superintendent of Stillwater School District 834, sent out an email to school district residents on Tuesday, October 3 about drug use in the schools and community. I am sharing this message with you so that you are aware of what is happening. I called the Stillwater Schools Administrative Offices this morning to verify recent posts on social media about overdoses of drugs and distribution of drugs in candy form. They could not verify that information as being accurate and said that we have to take anything on social media with a grain of salt. They did admit, as the email message states, that drug usage is found in the schools and the communities around the schools. They also commented that parents have called the district office with first hand observations of drug behavior and this information has been given to authorities so that they can deal with the situation.  There are many good suggestions in the email to help prevent drug use. Please make sure your children do not accept any candy or un-packaged items from people they don’t know. We are not aware of any problems at Salem, but we want you to be aware of what is happening in the community. Pray that we do not have to deal with any drug encounters with our school families.

Roger Zolldan
Principal, Salem Lutheran School

Message from Denise Pontrelli:

Dear Families,
In recent days there have been conversations taking place on social media regarding the use of drugs by our community’s young people.

This is not a new conversation, unfortunately. Across the country school districts, law enforcement agencies, county health officials and other government agencies have been dealing with teen drug abuse for generations. And while we’d like to believe this isn’t an issue in our community, the evidence proves otherwise. Experimentation with and the abuse of drugs occurs in all communities. It doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to the best of families, and it often catches parents and loved ones completely off guard.

The good news is that according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the use of illicit drugs by teens is on the decline. The reality, however, is that 14 percent of American students have used an illicit drug (other than marijuana) by the time they were a senior in high school.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has identified prescription medications - used to treat things like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), anxiety and acute pain - as some of the most abused by young people in our community. Students may take drugs not prescribed to them, thinking that they are safe. Things like Percocet, Xanax and Adderall can be just as dangerous as drugs like heroin, ecstasy and meth.

So what can we as educators, parents and concerned community members do?
During the school day our staff keeps a close watch on our school environment, and when a concern arises, we address it and provide confidential support to our students and their families. It’s easiest for us to follow up on specific incidents, and we always appreciate it when parents or students can give details of what they’ve seen or heard so we can investigate it thoroughly.

Research shows the importance of building strong relationships with our kids and talking to them openly about substance abuse; the earlier the better. Here are tips from chemical abuse specialists of how you can help prevent drug abuse in the children you love:

Set a positive example.
Establish and maintain good communication with your children.
Get involved in your children’s lives.
Be nonjudgmental.
Educate yourself and your child about drugs. is a comprehensive resource.
Talk about drugs and alcohol early on. Here is a resource to help guide those conversations.
Set clear rules and enforce them.
Be a parent instead of a friend
Help your children choose friends wisely.
Praise your children often.
Dispose of any leftover prescriptions appropriately. Learn more about Washington County’s Prescription Drug Take Back Event on Oct. 28.
Most importantly, if you are concerned your child may be using drugs, get help right away. You can contact the Chemical Health Intake Line at 651.430.6561, or for additional information on resources in Washington County, visit the Community Services Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services page.

Other school and community resources include:

School counselors or administrators
The Wellness Center at Stillwater Area High School, 651.351.8098
Youth Service Bureau, 651.439.8800
The larger Stillwater area community remains a great place to raise and educate children. We look forward to working together with parents and community resources to keep our kids safe, and we are committed to maintaining a healthy environment for students to learn and grow.

Thank you for all you do to support our kids,

Denise Pontrelli, Superintendent


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