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Generation Orphan: How drug addiction has impacted a growing number of Utah students

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WEST JORDAN — When Alyssa Woodward permitted her degree at West Jordan High School’s commencement final spring, her oldsters weren’t within the target audience cheering for her. They’ve each been out of the image since she began kindergarten.

“I was living with my mom and all throughout that time, she was in jail,” stated Woodward. “Every night I was at a different house. I never remember staying at the same house.”

After bouncing round from her mother’s buddies and every now and then strangers, she sooner or later got here to are living along with her aunt.

Drugs dictated her formative years.

The identical used to be true for Hailey Bartlett, who lately graduated from Valley High School in South Jordan.

“As far as I can remember, my mom was on drugs and my dad was too. He’s actually in jail on his way to prison,” Bartlett stated.

These youngsters are section of a troubling pattern in Utah top faculties. A growing number of students are elevating themselves as a result of their oldsters are lifeless, in prison or out of the image, because of drug addiction.

“I promise you every single public school, even down to elementary schools have stories just like this,” stated Sharon Jensen, foremost of Valley High School in Jordan School District.

None of the key faculty districts alongside the Wasatch Front monitor information on “drug orphans,” however anecdotally, all of them indicated they’ve noticed an building up simply within the final 5 years.

Davis, Jordan, Canyons, Alpine and Granite districts say this example used to exist in a handful of decrease source of revenue faculties. Now there are between 5 and 20 “drug orphans” in each faculty, particularly top faculties. And those students aren’t casualties of the opioid epidemic. They got here of age all over the meth generation.

Generation Orphan: How drug addiction has impacted a growing number of Utah students
Hailey Bartlett graduated from Valley High School in South Jordan. Photo: KSL TV

Administrators, district consultants and training foundations are operating to assist meet the desires of those students by means of offering counseling, faculty meals pantries and faculty laundry amenities.

“The effect over time and how it puts the child behind is cumulative,” Jensen stated.

Even so, many of those students display sufficient perseverance to graduate and get jobs that can maintain them thru faculty or into maturity.

“The thought of not graduating was motivating itself to keep going,” stated William, a scholar who didn’t need us to make use of his final title. He lately graduated from Taylorsville High School.

His father died, in part from the consequences of medication and his mom used to be addicted and too volatile to are living with. He moved round with family, buddies after which all over his senior 12 months, moved out on his personal.

He began highschool with AP categories, however operating to pay his personal bills virtually interfered with commencement. He’s now operating on his electrician certification and saving cash to shop for gear.

Generation Orphan: How drug addiction has impacted a growing number of Utah students
William graduated from Taylorsville High School. Photo: KSL TV

Bartlett is operating complete time as a dental assistant and elevating her three-year-old daughter Abigail.

“I got pregnant at 13 and had my daughter at 14,” stated Bartlett.

She wasn’t heading in the right direction to graduate in any respect, till she transferred to an alternate highschool that supplied daycare and a versatile time table.

She admits she struggles, and were given emotional as she shared how she tries to supply a higher formative years for her daughter than the only she had, whilst technically nonetheless a kid herself.

“I want to be able to give her what she wants… I want to be a better mom than what I had,” Bartlett stated.

And that’s now not simple when she will’t have the funds for strong housing. She’s moved thrice within the final 12 months. For now, she’s staying along with her boyfriend’s grandmother, which she considers a blessing.

“I feel like people are going to tell me I’m a bad mom because I can’t give her a place to go,” Bartlett stated between tears. “Sometimes I get super overwhelmed and I can’t handle her because of it.”

They stay going.

One factor all 3 teenagers have in commonplace — they don’t wish to proceed the custom of their oldsters.

“Your parents do drugs, you do drugs, and you have to learn to break the cycle,” stated William.

They can’t have the funds for to lament the formative years they neglected.


“I’m nonetheless thankful for a way my existence became out. It will have been a lot worse.” — Alyssa Woodward


“It’s still hard, there’s no way to sugarcoat it. It’s hard,” stated Woodward. “It does suck sometimes, but I’m still grateful for how my life turned out. It could have been a lot worse.”

Woodward were given a activity out of highschool as a qualified nursing assistant.

Through the fight, they paintings — and hope — for higher futures, for themselves and the following era.

As Bartlett pushes her daughter on a swing on the park, she resolves to show her kid existence courses she’s now dwelling.

“That even though there are hard things in life, as long as you work hard and have a good attitude, nothing is impossible,” stated Bartlett.

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