Family Who Lost 22-Year-Old To Heroin Implores School District To Do More

Help Stop Heroin and Opioid Addiction

Family Who Lost 22-Year-Old To Heroin Implores School District To Do More

June 10, 2017 News Article 0

 Luke Johnson is one of six recent graduates of Pennsbury High School who passed away in a two-week span due to the heroin epidemic.Seven members of Luke Johnson’s immediate and extended family came out to the Pennsbury School Board on their regular meeting Thursday to petition the district to take the issue of addiction more seriously within the walls of the schools.

Luke Johnson, a 2013 Pennsbury High School graduate, passed away on May 17.

An online petition is going to be delivered to the district once the goal of 1,500 signatures is reached. The petition, which can be found here, directly asks the district to support the cause of fighting addiction.

“You probably have no clue who Luke is, but it is our job to make sure you never forget him,” said Alex Johnson, who was Luke Johnson’s sister.

A nonprofit foundation is being set up in 22-year-old Luke Johnson’s memory. The Luke’s Hero in Me Foundation’s main goals will be to educate and raise awareness in the community.

“Let’s have a conversation; let’s have it start today,” Alex Johnson implored.

“The bright, beautiful faces you see from kindergarten up – some of them will become addicts and some of them will die. It will happen,” Johnson said, specifically addressing Superintendent Dr. William Gretzula. “Let’s help each other save someone else’s Luke.”

Luke Johnson’s aunts, cousins and siblings spoke on his behalf and in attempt to get the board to understand the need for a comprehensive plan to battle addiction in schools and the community.

Danny Cummins, Luke Johnson’s cousin, was one of the seven members of the Johnson family to attend and speak to the board. He described himself as a quiet student who played football and lacrosse and never once got into trouble.

“Even with all of those qualities, it may surprise you to hear that I am also a recovering addict of three-and-a-half years, whose addiction started between these walls,” Cummins said. “I am proof that it can be the kid who is invisible, the kid who doesn’t make waves.”

One of the biggest points to permeate the night’s discussion was the need for the district to take ownership and acknowledge that the problem is indeed a problem.

“I’m here tonight because I have attended too many funerals,” explained David Mills, a sixth grade science teacher at the William Penn Middle School.

An extended family member of Luke Johnson, Mills asked his students to put together a list of recent Pennsbury graduates who succumbed to addiction. They came back with a list 35 names long.

“One name is unacceptable, 35 is unconscionable,” Mills said.

After the seven members of the Johnson family spoke, the school board responded in solidarity.

“I’ve already lost a child. I don’t want to bury another and I don’t want to go to any more funerals of Pennsbury graduates, so this school board better get its act together and stop having only two board members fight the issue and be ignored,” said board member Jaqcui Redner.

“I’m angry because for five years I have sat on this board and said that there is a problem here but nobody listened,” Redner said.

There was no definite action taken on the subject at the meeting, but the board made it clear that the Johnson family’s pleas had been heard.

While the district and community groups do employ several programs to tackle addiction, the Johnson family’s message was clear – there’s more that can be done.