By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal
Students enrolled at Commerce Independent School District will soon have access to one of the most comprehensive drug prevention, testing and intervention programs in the area.
After conducting research and holding meetings with members of Texas A&M University-Commerce, the CISD School Board of Trustees passed a new drug testing program for the Commerce Middle and High Schools for the fall semester.
The new random drug testing program is for students enrolled in extracurricular activities or who drive their cars to school.
The district will be working alongside Dr. Lavelle Hendricks, assistant professor of Psychology, Counseling and Special Education at Texas A&M University-Commerce, on the comprehensive program that will include a monthly prevention and treatment seminar at the schools.
Hendricks is bringing with him alumni and counseling students from A&M-Commerce who will volunteer their time for the various programs and events, and serve as case workers for students who want more information on drug prevention and counseling services for those affected by drugs.
Hendricks said this is fully supported by both the district and university.
“This is embraced and supported by Dr. Jones,” he said.
According to CISD Superintendent Blake Cooper, the program is multi-faceted in its benefits in giving resources to students.
“We wanted to make sure we had the counseling in place because we feel that is very important,” he said. “We want to have things in place for our students not to fall into the trap of drugs. I’m excited about this part of it.”
Henricks said the workers are specialized in drug prevention, testing and intervention, and can also test for K2 and Bath Salts — synthesized forms of marijuana and cocaine — which can have devastating effects, including paranoia, seizures and heart attacks.
The team will hold drug and alcohol awareness fairs at the school and have other preventive measures to give students the information on the ill-effects of these drugs.
“We are about being at the forefront of the students,” Hendricks said. “Before it starts or the thoughts of experimentation with it. We are trying to prevent it before the thought process is in.”
Hendricks said he appreciates Cooper in working with him and the university to develop an intervention and therapy program for students who test positive for drugs.
“Instead of being dismissed from school, we have a solution-focused therapy program that asks ‘What can we do to get the student off the drug?’” he said, adding that the program will have both individual and group counseling for students.
The counselors will also implement a cognitive restructure therapy designed to get students to realize that wanting to use and abuse substances is an irrational way of thinking.
“As long as the person is thinking irrationally, they will behave irrationally,” he said. “We hope to help them think the right way.”
Hendricks said the program can be altered to fit each student’s needs.
“The intervention and prevention teams will implement a plan to help the individual student,” he said. “The bottom line is we want to save our kids and tell them there is hope after dope.”