The Hart School District recently received a Golden Bell Award in the student services category for the comprehensive drug prevention programs that the district has coordinated and promoted since 2007.
The Golden Bell Awards program, sponsored by the California School Board Association and now in its 34th year, seeks to recognize outstanding programs and governing practices in school districts throughout California.
The Hart School District is one of five districts recognized by the Golden Bell program in the student services category this year.
The district launched its comprehensive alcohol and drug reduction and education (CADRE) program with the help of the SCV Sheriff’s Department and the City of Santa Clarita in August of 2007. The decision to act was made as a response to the rising number of heroin related deaths throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.
Since its creation, the program has expanded throughout the community and has been considered a model program of this type.
Some of the components to the program to prevent drug use are voluntary random drug testing, counseling and assessment for treatment, referral and a three-day intensive intervention program for first-time offenders of alcohol and drug related incidents.
“The comprehensive alcohol and drug reduction and education program has been a great tool for parents and students,” said school board President Joe Messina.
The district, in conjunction with the same community partners, launched a new club last year called Drug Free Youth in Town (DFYIT) throughout local schools. The program is run by kids for kids, and it promotes a drug and alcohol free lifestyle.
What makes DFYIT unique is the fact that there is limited adult involvement. The idea is that students will band together with other students and together they will give each other reasons to stay drug free.
Each comprehensive junior high and high school has a DFYIT program, with a staff advisor overseeing each program.
District officials expect the program, along with others, to expand until the drug use culture shifts throughout the community.
“If the program prevents any child from taking a wrong turn towards a life of drugs, it is a program that makes sense for students and will continue to be supported by the district,” Messina said.