WAVERLY - Waverly Central School District Superintendent Joseph Yelich recently participated in the "Substance Abuse Community Forum" at the Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre.

The forum, organized by Pastor Anne Canfield of Waverly United Methodist Church, was a successful attempt at gathering multiple community leaders to speak on the problems of substance abuse in the Valley.

Yelich gave a presentation on how drug use in the area affects day to day operations of the schools in his district.

Yelich explained that there are two ways substance abuse impacts students.

"In situations where students are caught with drugs, we first decide on what disciplinary action will be taken against the student, but after that we are able to get them the help they need," Yelich said. "If a student is negatively impacted by drug use in their home, in almost every situation we start to see grades suffer."

Dropping grades and depression, along with exposure to drug use in a home environment, can lead students to start using drugs themselves.

Using his experience from seeing first hand how drug use can effect children, Yelich is cooperating with Sayre and Athens school district superintendents in order to identify the problem and work towards solving it.

"What the main problem comes down to is a lack of places to go to in the community that offer support for drug related problems," he said.

Yelich went on to say that if a foundation or agency was formed to help victims of drug use, it would give the local schools a needed resource to help students facing these problems.

"We would share information with the agency, and take advantage of training with them so the staff here can better learn how to deal with drug related problems," he said.

The creation of an area foundation is not without its hurdles.

Bradford County recently announced likely cuts for human services agencies, some of which deal with substance abuse to which Yelich responded, "The programs that get cut first are the ones we need the most."

While community leaders in the valley area are coming together across state lines, local governments will more than likely not be able to do the same, Yelich explained.

"It's possible that maybe federal money could be used," he suggested.

More on the topic will be learned at the next forum, which according to Pastor Canfield is expected to be scheduled within the next two months.

Momentum has certainly gained ground in this discussion, Yelich said, "...and I like participating in these forums because there is a promise for follow up."

Tim Zyla can be reached at (570) 265-1634; or email: tzyla@thedailyreview.com.