ARLINGTON COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — A crowd gathered outside Wakefield High School Friday, three days after a student was found unconscious in a bathroom there and later died as the result of a drug overdose. Four other students were evaluated at the school.
“My heart is broken, but I can’t even imagine the family of our student, just the situation and the pain that they’re feeling,” said Dr. Chris Willmore, Principal of Wakefield High School, who spoke to the people at the gathering Friday.
Many of them held signs with messages of support for students and the school community. Some messages encouraged young people to stay clear of drugs at a time when the number of overdoses among that younger age group across the DMV and the country is up.
“Substance abuse has long time been a problem,” noted Willmore. “When I was in high school, it was alcohol and marijuana, but you weren’t facing the prospect of taking a pill and not waking up, and I don’t think at their age they understand that.”
Willmore, who has been part of the Wakefield High School community since 2001, when he joined it as its assistant principal, added, “I don’t know if it’s gotten worse in terms of the number of kids that are using illicit drugs, but it’s the deadliness of the fentanyl now that’s the most concern.”
Willmore said the school had activities planned for Monday aimed at giving students and opportunity to talk about what happened through small-group conversations. He said there would be other activities in the days that followed, including ones to help the community longer term.