On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, Mount Si High School Principal John Belcher wrote and hit send on a heartbreaking schoolwide email no principal ever wants to draft – one announcing the tragic loss of a student.
Principal Belcher sadly let families know that junior Robert Draper had died on May 3rd of a fentanyl-laced drug overdose. Robert’s family asked Belcher to let other families know the circumstances of their son’s death to raise awareness and help prevent any similar tragedies.
Principal Belcher wrote:
“We send our condolences and prayers to his family, friends, and the many staff who are deeply impacted by this loss. Our hearts are breaking today. While his family deals with this shock and painful loss, they have asked that we be sure to let people know the cause of his death in the hope that this awareness might help prevent other students and other families from experiencing this terrible outcome. We are grateful to the Draper family for their courage and selfless efforts to try to save other young lives.”
Belcher added, “To lose one of our students at any time is a tragic loss. It feels especially tough during this time of school closure, when our immediate instinct is to want to provide love and support for all those who are hurting and grieving.”
Last fall the Sammamish community was also rocked by the news that two Skyline High School students had died from drug overdoses involving fentanyl-laced Oxycodone tablets. At the time, SVSD and neighboring districts, along with law enforcement, worked to educate students, staff and families on the extreme risks of fentanyl laced drugs and the alarming rate of death in Washington State from them.
According to the King County Sheriff’s Department, fentanyl is more powerful that Heroin or Morphine and a tiny amount can be fatal.
The Snoqualmie Police Department said stated last October, “Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate and is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and more potent than heroin….Just a few grains of fentanyl can take a life and Narcan doesn’t always work.”
Mount Si High School is asking students and parents – in honor of Robert and his family – to review the important fentanyl information again, which can be found on the King County Public Health Overdose Prevention and Response website.
Mount Si HIgh School will also be hosting Virtual Safe Rooms on Wednesday, May 6th and Thursday, Mayt 7th for students who may be struggling. They will be facilitated by school counselors, school psychologists and the school’s full-time mental health therapist from Friends of Youth.
The Virtual Safe Rooms are a chance for students to “process emotions with their peers, identify support systems, address coping skills and normalize healthy grief processes.” Access to those meetings can be found in Principal Belcher’s email.
Students may also reach out to their counselors for support.
[Note: the original email to families identified cocaine as the drug that had been laced with fentanyl, but Principal Belcher stated on May 6th that the laced drug has yet to be identified and so this article has been updated]