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Skyline High School community confronts opioid crisis after two student deaths

Hundreds gathered in the Skyline High School gymnasium to talk about ways to prevent another overdose.

SAMMAMISH, Wash. — In the wake of tragedy, Skyline High School parents, teachers, and students are coming together to confront the opioid crisis.

Two Skyline students, Thomas Beatty and Lucas Beirer, both 16, died from opioid overdoses as the school year was getting underway. The King County Sheriff’s Office said the teens had taken pills contaminated with the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

On Wednesday evening, hundreds gathered in the Skyline High School gymnasium to talk about ways to respond.

“Just like the teenagers don’t believe that this is anything that would ever happen to them, I think that as a community we've been living in that bubble, and I think that this is a real wake-up call,” said parent Holly McIntyre.

Also see | Service honors Sammamish teen who died of fentanyl overdose

Before the meeting, McIntyre helped collect names and signatures from other parents interested in growing a coalition to make sure no other teens die of a drug overdose.

“We need to come together. We need to share information. We need to stop being afraid of judgment, and stop judging each other, and open up so that we can solve this crisis for our kids,” McIntyre said.

The Issaquah School District is planning to change some curriculums and add new lessons to give students strategies to navigate situations in which opioids might be present.

Skyline Principal Keith Hennig told the gymnasium audience there has been a recent uptick in submissions to an online form where teens can anonymously report unsafe behavior among their peers.

Also see | Washington health officials suggest everyone carries Naloxone as fentanyl use rises

“We're having students say, ‘My friends, so and so and so and so, aren't making healthy decisions and I'm worried about them.’ That never happened before,” Hennig said.

The district said it's partnering with the parents of the two teens who died from overdoses so they can talk to students and share the deep emotional toll drug use can take on families.

“I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘What are you doing? How are you going to fix this? What is Skyline doing?’ And I want to make sure that we have a shared understanding here that this is a ‘we’ thing,” Hennig said.

Click here for more information on how to talk with kids about drugs.

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