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"Student survey results: troubling, but not surprising"

"When the Oak Harbor School District administered a student health survey a year ago, officials already knew there were problems with drug use, violence and delinquent behavior among students. Now that the survey results are in, they are finding out how right they were. Drinking and smoking, particularly among older middle schoolers, is relatively common, with about one out of every five eighth graders saying they've done one or the other during the last month. Taken as a group, about one out of every eight kids in grades, six, eight, 10 and 12 said they have been drunk or high during the year and about one in six reported that they acted violently to hurt someone within the same period.Jen Glyzinski, Student Assistance Program coordinator for the district, said the results draw attention to some serious problems but are not unexpected.I don't think anybody was shocked by the numbers, she said. Now we have to figure out what we're going to do about the problems.Results of Oak Harbor students' first foray into the Washington State Survey of Adolescent Health Behaviors arrived at district offices last May but had to wait until the new school year before being fully analyzed. A summary of the results was presented to the Oak Harbor School Board in December.The district had previously been reluctant to participate in the survey, citing, among other things, poor wording of questions and possible privacy conflicts. Some district officials and board members also remarked that a survey wouldn't tell them anything they didn't already know. But survey participation came with some benefits, including a $150,000 grant that helped the district hire personnel and start programs to combat the problems. Even before the first results were in, the district hired Glyzinski and a drug and alcohol prevention specialist at each of the two middle schools. A partnership with the local Big Brothers/Big Sisters was formed to provide tutors and mentors. The district and Partnership with Youth teamed up to start an after-school enrichment program at North Whidbey Middle School, giving kids extra instruction and activities in the afternoon.District officials are currently concentrating their efforts at the middle school level. Glyzinski pointed to one of the survey results showing substantial growth in cigarette and alcohol use between grades six and eight. In sixth grade, for example, only 4.3 percent of students said they smoked within the last month and a similar number said they consumed alcohol. By eighth grade, however, the figures jumped to 19 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Some of this increase, Glyzinski said, can simply be attributed to adolescent curiosity and experimentation. Middle school kids are pretty easily swayed. They're trying to figure out where they fit, said Glyzinski.A new batch of Oak Harbor students took the survey in October and those results may be ready as early as this spring. Glyzinski expects that the programs now in place will eventually bring about better numbers but won't be an overnight cure-all. I don't expect to see these numbers decrease sharply just because we have a (Student Assistance Program) now. It's going to take some time, she said.Time itself will eventually become a problem for the district. The current state grant funding has recently been extended but will still run out at the end of the 2002-2003 school year. You can reach News-Times reporter Chris Douthitt at cdouthitt@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.-----------------Student Assistance Program money all but dries up at year's end for the Coupeville School District.Chris Wick, Student Assistance Program coordinator in Coupeville, said the district is desperately trying to find money to keep the program alive. At the moment, though, things don't look promising and she has regrettably had to start circulating her resume.To think it might come to an end is not a pleasant thought because the problems don't go away, she said. Funding for Wick's job runs out in March, and for the district's intervention specialist at the end of the school year. Without further support the Coupeville district can only count on about $4,500 a year in federal Safe and Drug Free School money. Wick says that's not nearly enough to put up a good fight against the problems - particularly in terms of trained personnel. As is, she works 30 hours per week and intervention specialist Hank Granda puts in another 21 hours. She said both are kept very busy.After four years on the job and hundreds of kids through the program, Wick says she has seen good progress and better student attitudes emerge. And incidents of students arriving at school under the influence have nearly disappeared.Wick has also seen students take a more active roll in prevention. There are now student groups at both the high school and middle school helping coordinate district intervention programs and developing their own. In addition, about half the district's staff have been trained in the Student Assistance Program.I can't help but think we're making some impact, Wick said.In a few months, the district may know for sure. Coupeville students also took the state health behavior survey in the fall and expect results in the spring.Regardless of what the results show, Wick said the Student Assistance Program needs to continue.It's got to happen, she said. I worry about walking out of here and leaving nothing in place. That would be sad.---------------Students at Oak Harbor's Middle and High schools took the Washington State Survey of Adolescent Health Behaviors last year. The results of the more than 100-question survey were recently presented to the Oak Harbor School Board. Here are a few samples.Substance use during the last 30 daysGrade 6Cigarettes: 4.3 percentAlcohol: 4.3 percentMarijuana: 0.6 percentInhalants: 0.9 percentGrade 8Cigarettes: 19 percentAlcohol: 22 percentMarijuana: 9.5 percentInhalants: 3.6 percentGrade 10Cigarettes: 20.7 percentAlcohol: 34.6 percentMarijuana: 18.9 percentInhalants: 5 percentGrade 12Cigarettes: 31.6 percentAlcohol: 38.5 percentMarijuana: 24.6 percentInhalants: 2.7 percentHow hard or easy is it to get beer, wine or hard liquor?Grade 6Very hard: 68.9 percentSort of hard: 16.0 percentSort of easy: 7.6 percentVery easy: 7.6 percentGrade 8Very hard: 37.8 percentSort of hard: 19.8 percentSort of easy: 20.2 percentVery easy: 23.0 percentGrade 10Very hard: 14.8 percentSort of hard: 16.2 percentSort of easy: 25.6 percentVery easy: 43.3 percentGrade 12Very hard: 7.5 percentSort of hard: 14.4 percentSort of easy: 27.8 percentVery easy: 50.3 percentEighth-graders who exhibited violent or delinquent behavior in the last 12 monthsSuspended: 13.9 percentArrested: 12.7 percentDrunk or high: 11.8 percentAttacked to hurt: 16.7 percentBelieve that there are adequate school opportunities for positive involvementGrade 6: 39.4 percentGrade 8: 44.3 percentGrade 10: 33.3 percentGrade 12: 26.2 percentBelief that there are adequate community opportunities for positive involvementGrade 6: 54.5 percentGrade 8: 57.4 percentGrade 10: 58.5 percentGrade 12: 50 percent "

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