HOLMEN, Wisconsin (WXOW) – The Holmen School District is taking steps to combat drugs and alcohol use among students.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction provided a $19,589 grant to help the efforts.
Holmen schools social worker Tiffani LaJeunesse said the grant will be used where peer pressure is at a high: high school.
She and a few colleagues applied for the grant.
"Students are experimenting," LaJeunesse said. "Developmentally, they're at risk because they think they're invincible. They feel like things don't impact them and they're risk takers."
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction funded almost $950,000 between 87 districts, including Holmen and La Crosse.
"We're very grateful for it. It allows us to specialize our programming, get evidence programs, and purchase things we wouldn't normally be able to purchase," LaJeunesse said.
Holmen plans to use the money to create a formal mentoring program, fund a theatre program that addresses the issues of peer pressure and drug use, start a trial class for 9th graders called "Why Try," and run a support group with teens to help them overcome addiction.
The grant will also be used to team up with the district's police liaison to start a smoking cessation program.
District administrator Dale Carlson said a grant like this improves student and staff education.
"Most often it begins in the home, we believe. Then also with peers, as well. So, we recognize the fact that it begins early on," Carlson said.
"We'd like to do more to give them healthy choices and allow them to make better choices in the future," LaJeunesse said.
The district takes a youth risk behavior survey every two years.
While the Holmen wouldn't share the results, the district said they have seen teen drug abuse go down. But, they still need to build up ways to combat alcohol use.
This is not the district's first state grant, either. LaJeunesse said the schools received state money in 2008 and developed programs at all grade levels.
If these new programs are successful, the district has an option to get additional funding for the 2014-2015 school year.
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