Former Concordia College wrestling coach Phil Moenkedick was hired as the new Perham High School Dean of Students at the Perham-Dent School Board Meeting on Wednesday, May 8. The vote on Moenkedick's hiring was moved off the consent agenda by a motion from board member Christi Stoll. After no discussion, the motion to hire Moenkedick passed 6-1, with the lone opposing vote coming from Stoll.
Moenkedick graduated from Perham in 2007, previously taught at Perham High School and was an assistant coach for the Perham High School wrestling program before coaching at Concordia.
Mental health professionals from LMHC addressed the board on what's going in the district schools, and what they encounter during a typical day.
Social Worker Courtney Rooney said she's been working with a family living in severe poverty, as well as a foster boy who is looking for his "forever home."
Rooney says there's two or three families in the district that have bounced around from foster home to foster home.
"They've had some trial runs that haven't went well," she said.
Overall, Rooney said she's been working with a lot of teens that self harm and self medicate with drugs and alcohol. On average, there's about two students per week that have intense and real suicidal thoughts, according to Rooney.
"If it hits that real docket, we get parents involved," she said. "A lot of times, it's straight to the ER."
Rooney said chemical abuse is a huge problem at the high school.
She says it ranges from the recreational "'Oh yeah, let's go out to a party,' to 'I have major anxiety' and the only thing that calms them down is hitting weed every night, but they're still getting good grades and don't feel it's a problem."
Social Worker Angie Schreader said the community has been hit by some serious things for how small it is, including suicide, which she calls a very intense topic that needs to be taken seriously.
"You can't just say 'Oh, they're not serious' that just can't exist in our vocabulary," she said.
Schreader said chemicals will always be an issue, because high school is a time of experimentation, but vaping is becoming a huge problem.
"There's always going to be smoking in the boys room," Schreader said. "There's always kids that are going to want to experiment and test those boundaries."
Vaping crosses over a different line, according to Schreader.
"Kids who wouldn't normally experiment with this stuff are experimenting," she said.
Schreader also said self medicating for depression and anxiety is rising with more marijuana use than alcohol.
"They get the effects that they might get from an antidepressant or antianxiety," she said.
In other school news
• Heart of the Lakes Elementary Principal Jen Hendrickson submitted her resignation. Hendrickson is moving on to work at United Community Bank.
• The board approved a milk bid to Land O Lakes