Woodbridge Students Get Educated on the Growing Opioid Epidemic


Hackensack Meridian Health presents to high school students through assemblies. Ms. Rosa presented a story of her life long struggle with drugs.

Xavier Pazmino, Reporter

With a growing opioid epidemic in America, Woodbridge High School looked to further assist in awareness of the growing issue that affects many families. With organization from Mr. Semmens, a two-part opioid assembly was presented to all 12th-grade students and forensic classes by Hackensack Meridian Health.

Through two dates, Jeanette Roma shared her personal story of struggle with various amounts of drugs. With her emotional story, Ms. Roma expressed her feelings on why students should not take the path she took.

Mr. Semmens, the organizer, is aware of the effects of drugs in today’s society, especially on the youth. “Most students, in general, are beginning to test different substances, such as vaping, alcohol, marijuana, etc., which could lead to the use of other drugs. If the presentation could prevent even one student from being involved with or the death resulting from substance abuse, then it served its purpose,” he said.

With more and more students participating in the use of drugs, the question being asked is how we can be more public about the ill effects of drug use. “I personally think this is something that should be available on a large scale for students even younger than the senior class. The unfortunate reality is that some people are already addicted to a substance by the time they are seniors in high school and, in some cases, students lose their life in some way shape or form due to substance abuse,” Mr. Semmens said.

From 1999 to 2017, more than 702,000 people have died from a drug overdose. It has become a growing epidemic. Some may not realize how it can affect everyone, even students at Woodbridge High School. Ms. Panko, a vice president at Woodbridge High School, is aware that a lot of students have had at least some type of first-hand experience with this situation. “It is safe to say that we have an opioid epidemic in this country. Schools are a microcosm of our larger society so our students are certainly not immune to this reality. I think that the level of engagement from our student body is a clear indication that our students can relate to the speaker’s story in one way or another,” she said.

The students felt the impact of Ms. Rosa’s story. It was evident that her story was filled with hardships along with many twists and turns. Rohan Desai, a senior at Woodbridge High school, thought Ms. Rosa’s story is a true representation of the epidemic happening in the United States. “The opioid presentation was eye-opening to the fact that addiction can truly destroy someone’s life. It does not matter where you come from, how much money you have, or even how successful you are. Drug addiction can affect anyone,” he said.

As students move on, they will hopefully remember this story and be able to fathom the fact that drugs can destroy lives. All who worked in assembling this presentation will agree that it was a success and hope that students will learn from this moment.