"This is huge," he said. "A cultural change is occurring and we hope it continues."
Therio and high school principal Theresa Andrew credited a variety of factors, including the Drug Abuse Resistance Education DARE program, Cornell Cooperative Extension's "strengthening Families" program, the local Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter, and the school's ongoing character education programs.
Andrew praised the Warren County Sheriff's Dept. for sponsoring the DARE program, and assigning officer Greg Seeley to the school.
"Greg Seeley attends lots of school events; he has a great relationship with the students, and if kids have concerns, they talk with him," she said. "Greg is a part of our North Warren family and has a great impact on both our student community and the greater community."
Therio said Seeley creates a close bond with the students, so students take his advice of alcohol and marijuana abstinence to heart.
"Greg is an authority figure but also an advocate and confidant to the students," he said. "His close relationship with students helps them overcome peer pressure and helps them say 'No' to substance abuse and destructive decisions."
Andrew said another program, the school's Home Base, which gives students an opportunity to talk things out with staff, is also helpful.
"We've really upped our character education programs in recent years," she said.