In Education

This free event will be Thursday, May 2, at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz, co-hosted by Santa Cruz Community Health, Santa Cruz County Office of Education and local school districts

 Local educators and healthcare professionals are coming together to raise awareness about the devastating impact of fentanyl poisoning on teenagers and to empower teens and their families with knowledge on how to address this urgent issue through a documentary film screening and panel discussion.

Santa Cruz Community Health (SCCH), Santa Cruz County Office of Education (COE) and local school districts will co-host a free community viewing of “Fentanyl High,” a poignant documentary film, on Thursday, May 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz. The film was produced by LC2 Productions and directed by Kyle Santoro, a Los Gatos High School senior.

“This powerful documentary directly speaks to the new reality and tragic statistic that drug overdoses and fentanyl poisoning are now the third leading cause of pediatric deaths in the United States,” said Kristen O’Connor, RN, Addiction Program Director at SCCH. “The goal of this screening is to educate and empower teens to prevent deaths in Santa Cruz County and to give families hope if their teenager struggles with substance use, including resources for evidence-based treatment.”

“Fentanyl High” is filmed from the perspective and experiences of high school students, providing an intimate look into why teens are succumbing to fentanyl poisoning and what actions teens and their families can take to combat it. Through candid interviews and first-hand accounts, the film sheds light on the complexities of the opioid crisis gripping our youth.

“Families will leave the event with concrete steps for both prevention and support around this issue,” said Dr. Heather Thomsen, a school-based health manager at Santa Cruz County Office of Education,. “We will be providing parents and caregivers ‘Let’s Talk’ booklets and tip sheets identifying the signs of an overdose. School nurses will be passing out free Narcan, a lifesaving medication, at the end of the event.”

Admission is free and attendance by teens is encouraged. Immediately following the screening, a discussion panel featuring local professionals and high school peers will take place, inviting audience participation to deepen understanding and engagement with the film’s themes and implications.

“We are honored to co-host the screening of ‘Fentanyl High’ as part of our ongoing commitment to adolescent health and well-being,” said Nadia Al-Lami, PNP, the Adolescent Health Director at SCCH. “We are dedicated to building capacity across the tri-county area for youth access to treatment for opioid use disorder. Through collaborative efforts and evidence-based interventions, we are striving to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis affecting our youth.”

SCCH has been working to create an adolescent-friendly clinic environment, ensuring teens receive the support and resources they need. Recent initiatives include training the clinical team to provide sensitive services, conducting psychosocial and mental health screenings, and connecting patients to appropriate resources.

For more information about the screening event or SCCH’s adolescent health initiatives, please contact

About Santa Cruz Community Health Centers

Through the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center, Santa Cruz Mountain Health Center and our new Live Oak Health Center, Santa Cruz Community Health (a Federally Qualified Health Center) provides comprehensive primary care services in English and Spanish to all ages, genders, ethnicities, abilities and sexual orientation, regardless of their ability to pay. Seeded by the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center in 1974, SCCH has maintained a 50-year commitment to its mission: to improve the health of its patients and the community and advocate the feminist goals of social, political, and economic equality. SCCH’s health centers serve over 12,000 patients through a dedicated staff of medical providers, nurses, licensed clinical social workers, health educators, and administrative personnel.

About Santa Cruz County Office of Education

The Santa Cruz COE is a public agency striving to lead an equitable and innovative education system for all Santa Cruz County students. Under the leadership of Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Faris Sabbah, the Santa Cruz COE accomplishes this mission by convening education leaders to catalyze systemic change; providing support and oversight to 10 public school districts; and offering a range of arts, environmental education, child development, career and technical education, and instructional programs and services directly to students, from birth through age 24 and beyond. For more information, visit

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