Pine River students hospitalized after drug scare

By Sarah Neubecker

Pioneer Staff Writer

LEROY - Pine River Middle School students got a lesson in drug abuse after three students were hospitalized last Tuesday for illness caused by ingesting prescription pills on the bus ride to school.

Principal Darell Holmes was notified mid-morning by a few student who were concerned for their classmates.

“I’m very proud of our students who came forward,” Holmes said. “If they hadn’t, it would have turned out a lot differently.”

The students in question were approached by administrators and taken to Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital after becoming ill. The students were then sent to Helen DeVos Children’s hospital in Grand Rapids where they were monitored overnight before being released Wednesday.

One of the students had taken two types of prescription pills from a relative who was unaware that the pills were missing, and distributed them to the other two students.

Following the incident on Wednesday, Holmes scheduled an assembly to discuss the issue with students in the middle school.

“I wanted to create awareness of the potential dangers of taking prescription drugs,” Holmes said. “We had a very negative thing that happened and we are doing everything we can to educate students that it can be a life changing decision to take (prescription drugs) that weren’t prescribed to them.”

Holmes informed students about the incident and stressed the dangers of making similar choices.

“(Our staff) did a fine job with creating awareness about the issue and making good decisions,” said Pine River Schools superintendent Jim Ganger. “Fortunately no students were (severely) hurt.”

Pine River Area Schools has a Drug Abuse Resistance Education program for all students in third through fifth grade. The middle school hosts speakers and programs two to three times each year to encourage students to make good decisions. The three students involved in the program had gone through the D.A.R.E. courses in elementary school.

“One of the main things we talk about is prescription drugs,” said Osceola County undersheriff Justin Halladay. “We tell them a drug is anything that can change the way you think or feel. Just because it doesn’t say it’s against the law, doesn’t mean its safe.”

Halladay said prescription drugs may be more dangerous than illegal drugs because they are more accessible to youth.

Though the students involved made poor decisions, administrators and the undersheriff agree that the students who reported the incident were the heroes of the situation.

“I have to give them credit. That goes to show that for every person making bad decisions, you have some who are making good ones,” Halladay said.

The three students have returned to the school, but will be punished according to the school’s drug policy consequences which may include suspension.

“We have some great students here, they just made a bad decision,” Holmes said.