South Summit School District event to address topics like drugs and mental health | ParkRecord.com

South Summit School District event to address topics like drugs and mental health

In a few weeks, food trucks will drive into the South Summit High School parking lot and a jazz band will start jamming. The third annual Opportunities Night is coming.

The evening will focus on a keynote address and four break-out sessions for topics such as "internet and electronics information and safety" and "drugs and harmful substances information and recognition." It is scheduled to take place on March 13 from 4:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the high school auditorium.

Shad Sorenson, superintendent of South Summit School District, said that the goal of the event is to bring parents and their students together to talk about issues that are plaguing the youth in today's world. He said that all community members are invited to attend.

"Parents are able to find out information that will help them improve communication with their teens," he said. "That will help them to be more alert and attentive to signs and distresses that they may be seeing in their teens so they can do early prevention and intervention."

He also hopes that students will walk away learning the truth from experts about topics like drugs. The nonprofit CONNECT Summit County and local law enforcement officials will provide information during the break-out sessions.

The event is set to begin with a tailgate party that will include food trucks Steve's Killer Dogs, Lola's Street Kitchen and Waffle Love. There will also be opportunity drawings.

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Sorenson said that the district wanted to make the evening fun, since some of the topics are weighty and can be difficult to discuss. He said that the name of the event is meant to be positive as well, in order to show that there are opportunities for all students, no matter their past.

"You can choose to rise, find strength and be productive and positive or you can go a different direction," he said. "We want people to leave feeling hopeful."

At 6 p.m., Clint Pulver will give a keynote address to the audience about the importance of keeping options open. Pulver struggled throughout school because of learning differences, but he discovered drumming as an outlet for his energy.

"It perfectly matches what we are trying to accomplish in this opportunities night of coming to a fork in the road and deciding to go in a positive direction rather than a negative direction despite heavy stuff in your backpack," Sorenson said.

Booths featuring nonprofits such as Valley Behavioral Health and the Peace House will also be at the event to provide information about resources in the community.

The break-out sessions cover topics that were brought up during a community meeting in which the Summit County Sheriff's Office met with parents. Sorenson hopes to continue to have conversations about hard topics within the community and inside homes, and he said this event is a way to keep that conversation going.

"It's all about saving people's lives and helping them to find the opportunities," he said. "Our goal is to address things before it becomes too late."