High School Hosts Summit on Substance Abuse


In collaboration with the Deer Park Partners for Safe and Drug Free Schools (DPS) Council, the district sponsored a Drug Summit for students, parents and community members. The forum, entitled “Substance Abuse Awareness and Prevention,” was held at the high school and featured a variety of professional and expert speakers.

Suffolk County Legislator Steven Stern, Town of Babylon Councilwoman Jacqueline Gordon, and Deer Park Fire Department Rescue Crew member Thomas Cronogue joined Strategic Protection Group Inc. President Michael Zotto and representative James Murphy for a discussion on how to combat the growing teen drug problem. Local police officers, firefighters and EMT workers, many of whom live in the community, were in attendance to lend their support and expertise.

Deer Park Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Higher Education Area Transit (HEAT) club members volunteered their time, sharing informational brochures and educating community members based on their experiences at Deer Park High School and colleges, respectively. 

In concert with the Drug Summit, Legislator Stern and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department also conducted a “Shed-the-Meds" program in the high school lobby. Attendees of the summit were encouraged to bring their unused, expired over-the-counter and prescription medications to the school so that they could be disposed of properly. The goal is twofold: to keep these medications out of the water supplies, as well as out of the hands of adolescents, many of whom scour their home medicine cabinets looking for pills to use for recreational purposes. 

Board of Education President Dennis Ryan described drug abuse as a community issue, which requires diligent, proactive action from families, friends, neighbors and local government and law officials. Mr. Cronogue described a variety of incidents which he and his crew have responded to over the years in Deer Park. He even described the consequences and irreparable damage done to the drug users and their families, ranging from brain and neurological damage to death. 

Mr. Zotto and Mr. Murphy, both experienced members of the New York City Narcotics Unit, shared a powerful presentation and encouraged students to speak out against the drug abuse that is occurring in the community. Attendees learned the staggering statistics and facts of drug abuse, as well as the history and trends of specific drugs and their use in pop culture. In addition, they provided photos and videos illustrating the visual realities of drug use and abuse and the numerous physical and psychological effects they have on the body.  

Strategic Protection Group Inc. uses a proactive approach to build awareness and develop solutions to prevent drug crimes and abuse through the education of children and adults. Based in West Islip, the organization has provided educational seminars in schools throughout New York State. To expand and reinforce the knowledge learned at the Drug Summit, Strategic Protection Group Inc. will facilitate assemblies for Deer Park High School students through in-school presentations in the coming months.