The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

High school fentanyl outbreak shocks LA county

Olivia Cooke
Melanie Bauman, Director of Wellness, and Stephanie Baron, Health center director, sit on the stage of the Liu Chung Theater and speak to VWS students about an important topic that has become relevant in Los Angeles County. Students listen attentively at the bi-school meeting as Ms. Bauman announces that there has been a concerning amount of fentanyl overdoses affecting nearby high school students.

Unsuspecting teenagers as young as 15 face the danger of substances laced with Fentanyl, as they risk overdosing with things as simple as headache relief.  

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is a pharmaceutical drug, used for treating severe pain. This drug is often prescribed to cancer patients as its effects are stronger than morphine. Taken as prescribed, the drug relaxes patients and helps numb their pain. However, when taken in excessive and non-prescribed doses, fentanyl can cause a consumer’s breathing to slow or stop, which may lead to death or brain damage. Non-prescribed fentanyl has been developed and sold illegally for years; it’s main appeal being the euphoric effects it is known to produce. 

 In 2020, fentanyl overdose death rates skyrocketed — a recorded 140% increase from 2019. The death toll remained high in California’s adult population throughout 2021. 

 However, the most recent wave of fentanyl-related deaths in 2022 was a wake-up call to the danger of illegal drugs being increasingly accessible to teenagers. While the overdose rate for teenagers had raised 20% in the first half of 2021, the rate is currently spiking again due to the imminent fentanyl outbreak. More than 950 teens died of an overdose in 2020. More than 70% of those deaths were from illicit fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. This new outbreak brings fear that the overdose rate may rise again this year. 

This year, students across California have been targeted by this epidemic, buying counterfeit drugs laced with fentanyl from peers and often strangers. The pills are advertised as headache relief prescriptions and have vibrant colors similar to candy such as Smarties. It’s deceptive appearance makes it easy for teenagers to trust that the pills are safe when, in reality, one too many can lead to death. In September 2022, there were increased cases of teenage overdoses, with fentanyl being the suspected cause behind each case. 

Upon hearing the news, Webb students have expressed sympathy for those who have overdosed after being deceived by the fentanyl-laced pills’ friendly exterior.  

“I feel awful when I hear about any type of drug use- people use them not only because of curiosity but for more personal motivation regarding mental health” said Sehoon Kang (‘24). 

Schools in the LA county district have been on high alert, including Webb. As soon as cases were reported in the district, staff started taking many steps to ensure student safety including attending an informative webinar hosted by the county.  

“We learned fentanyl is being used as a filler — People are thinking they are getting pure heroin or narcotics, but manufacturers are actually lacing it with fentanyl,” said Stephanie Barron, Administrative Assistant. 

Webb now has a supply of Narcan accessible to the health center staff and other faculty in the case of an overdose on campus.  

“It’s kind of like a Nasal spray, but a powder— what’s nice about it is that most people feel comfortable administrating it without being in the medical field. It can be any trained adult.” Ms. Barron said.  

Webb has also addressed the epidemic by holding two all-school assemblies, one for WSC and another for VWS in early October, to explain the dangers of fentanyl and to raise awareness about drug use in general.  

“I felt uncertainty and contradiction at first; While I do feel that Webb is a safe environment, I felt that no environment is 100% safe- so I would I was assured of student’s safety [in the meeting]” said Zona Zhou (‘26).  

“More recently students have been turning to drug use to cope, rather than self-harm,” said Melanie Bauman, Director of Wellness. “If you see the signs of drug use in your friends, speak up.” 

Students were reminded that Webb is a safe space with counselors readily available for them. The meeting concluded with the community being asked to remain open-minded.  

“Just because we don’t have a large fentanyl use concern in our community doesn’t mean that people that we know aren’t touched by it,” Ms. Bauman said. 

For more information on the fentanyl epidemic, visit: 

Partnership to End Addiction, CDC , or National Institute on Drug Abuse  

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About the Contributors
Olivia Cooke
Olivia Cooke, Co-Editor of Culture and Lifetyle
Exemplifying a vibrant spirit, Olivia Cooke (‘24) enthusiastically indulges her multifaceted interests. With a soccer ball at her feet and a tennis racket in her hand, Olivia's passion for sports is unmistakable, whether she showcases her skills on the soccer field, the Webb soccer team, or the JV tennis court. Beyond the athletic arena, Olivia shines through her commitment to community service, driven by her mission to spread happiness and positivity. Olivia's passion for the thrill and chill extends beyond her love for Halloween movies and Stephen King's horror novels. This fascination can be seen in her love for crime documentaries, which provide her with insights into the legal system. Last year, Olivia joined the Webb debate team, showcasing her dedication to pursuing a career in law while combining her passion for horror and crime with her newfound interest in debate. As she lives with passion and a zest for exploration, Webb Canyon Chronicle provides her with a platform to express her voice and enrich the community with her dynamic perspectives.   Favorite song: Running with the Devil - Van Halen
Sohum Uppal
Sohum Uppal, Editor of Science & Technology
Sohum Uppal (‘25) likes to build cars during his free time. Yes, you heard that right — not toy cars or miniature models, but life-sized, mechanical engines used for transportation. Currently embroiled in fixing a motorcycle, he finds peace in tinkering with nuanced components to enliven a fully functional vehicle. Just like how he enjoys fine-tuning wires and relocating structures, Sohum lives for the thrill of transforming numbers and functions when he tries to solve math problems. In fact, he had been learning math during the past summer while making chicken boxes at Raising Cane's and playing with his Siberian husky, Astro. Sohum’s productive break ended a week earlier than most of his peers, because of his new leadership role as the student government’s serotonin commissioner. He loved planning community events such as the Welcome Back Dance and hopes to give students a boost of happiness, especially during stressful times. Sohum looks forward to establishing genuine connections with the Webb community this year through community service and sports. As the Science and Technology Section Editor in the WCC, he strives to increase related articles with his passion for STEM. One thing is for certain: the Tech section is in great hands.   Favorite song: Nascar dashcar- lucki

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