Petersburg’s School Board this month heard some concerning results from a risk behavior survey given to high school students a year ago.

High school and middle school Principal Rick Dormer said 109 of 147 students in the high school took the survey in January of 2015. He outlined some of the findings at a meeting of board on February 9.

“Kids trying marijuana came up,” Dormer said. “In the high school it said about a third of our kids, 10 percent before the age of 13, that was an alarming statistic that we wanted to talk about and address further with staff. Kids trying alcohol was at 63 percent as well as inhalants and other drugs was higher than the state average, around 10 percent but that was still obviously a concern and something we wanted to talk about with staff, talk about ways to investigate.”
School District building with no snow
Dormer also saw concerns with tobacco use, cyber bullying and kids who thought about or have attempted suicide. “And this is attempted suicide in our schools, at the high school was 6.6 percent report on the survey,” he said. “Obviously anything over zero is unacceptable. Thoughts about suicide 18 percent and students who had planned to commit suicide was 20 percent. This is January of 2015 so those are extremely alarming.”

As for positive results, local students are involved in physical activity and eating healthy foods at a much higher rate than the state average.

Board president Sarah Holmgrain thought it was good to hear the survey results and she remarked on how education has changed. “All the time spent analyzing it and talking about it I know doesn’t have a direct link to academics which is really what school is about and yet our teachers and our staff are taking on this other ball of wax in order to help kids learn.”

The survey is paid for by the district’s healthy living grant from the state. Middle school students were also surveyed although the district has been told those results won’t be available until this summer.