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EHS Implementing Botvin LifeSkills Training Program

Edison High School will be implementing a new program this fall for freshmen which aims to reduce high-risk behaviors.

   The Edison Local School District obtained a training and technical assistance grant through the University of Colorado Boulder to initiate the Botvin LifeSkills Training High School Program, a single-year curriculum which targets ninth and 10th grade students and has been shown to decrease adolescent substance abuse, violence and other high-risk behaviors. The grant will defray costs for program materials, training and technical assistance for two years of life skills training, or LST, at the high school during the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school terms. Freshman students will participate in the program and complete 10 sessions during the first year while a new cohort of pupils will receive lessons the second year. 

   Superintendent Bill Beattie said several teachers will undergo training at summer workshops and the plan is to begin once students return in August. Weekly lessons will occur during the students’ English classes and an independent observer will occasionally review sessions to evaluate the process.

   “We were looking for a research-based program to have at the high school and came upon this grant,” Beattie said. “There have been positive results at schools around the country.”

    Assistant Superintendent Julie Kireta, who serves as a site coordinator along with EHS Assistant Principal Josh Leasure, said the program was a state-approved curriculum for emotional and physical safety and includes a variety of topics such as suicide awareness, violence prevention and inclusion.

   “It is evidence-based and has been proven to help districts meet their goals,” Kireta added. “We thought it would be beneficial for students to be taught in a more direct manner.”

   She added that district grantwriter Fatima Smuck made the application and it made sense to partake in Botvin LifeSkills because it was part of the state’s approved program.

   “We thought it would be a good opportunity to try it,” she added. “Guidance counselors do their own programs, but we wanted to do something that’s more evidence-based.”

   Leasure added that students would receive weekly lessons in their English classes and a similar program was enacted in the past through former school resource officer Scott Renforth.

   “It worked when Scott was here because he exposed the junior high students to the program,” Leasure said. “The [current] grant pays for training, books and technical assistance. It’s reduced behaviors and showed 52-percent lower cases of drug abuse. They had impressive data for what it’s going to do.”

   The district must participate in surveys and site visits, provide student demographics and consider plans for sustaining the LST. The school was assigned an implementation coordinator from C.U. Boulder to schedule training dates while three LST instructors have been named and will undergo a one-day training workshop, plus a classroom observer will be selected with assistance from the Jefferson County Educational Service Center. The observer must conduct three observations of each teacher implementing the curriculum each year. A university representative will also visit annually to meet with the principals and LST teachers and attend classroom sessions to gain a better understanding of the site’s experiences with the program. 

   Additionally, new and returning instructors participate in training the second year and the grant will defray teacher stipends for training and reimbursement for substitutes when workshops occur during the school year. Two types of regional sustainability trainings are offered: Training-of-Trainers workshops, which certify instructors as district trainers, and strategic sustainability workshops that provide support for participants in designing and completing planning work for long-term LST implementation. 

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