An inside look at WJ’s drug culture


This sign, which stands outside of our school on Rock Spring Drive, proudly proclaims that our campus is drug-free. It is not a very well-kept secret that this is not necessarily the truth – we decided to investigate our school’s drug culture.

Walter Johnson has two reputations: On the one hand, our academics are robust and our student body is spirited. On the other, below the surface lies an extensive drug culture which primarily revolves around cannabis. Are the two sides of our school mutually exclusive? The Pitch spoke to an anonymous student who both sells and uses drugs to get a look at drug use here at WJ and explore the true nature of this unique dichotomy, focusing on one central question: Is our school’s drug habit independent of our academic success?

“It’s one and the same,” our source said. “WJ has some bright kids. I don’t even think the drug culture impacts that, especially pot.”

The scientific community has yet to conclusively corroborate nor refute this assertion due to the fact that cannabis is currently classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule I substance. This means that the DEA claims marijuana has no currently accepted medical use, is generally considered unsafe or harmful to humans and has a high potential for abuse. This classification has made it extremely difficult to conduct research on the substance, so not much is known for certain about whether or not cannabis consumption generally impacts academic success. That being said, AP Psychology teacher Geri Acquard teaches her students that using drugs is not a healthy way to deal their problems.

“I certainly think that the use of illicit drugs is not beneficial to any student and will actually exacerbate any problems they are dealing with,” Acquard said. “I hope they can learn to use healthier coping strategies that they learn about in their psychology and health classes.”

However, our school certainly has many successful students who use drugs.

“I have an interview with [Ivy League school, redacted] on Saturday,” our source continued. “[In] my junior year, I took five APs. The academics here are sick.”

So why does a school with such “sick academics” have such a prominent drug culture? For many students, the pressure to take so many AP classes, get such good grades and get into such rigorous colleges is stressful. For some, drugs serve as a way to escape from such a stressful environment and alleviate some of the pressure of WJ’s competitive academics.

“I have a friend who felt pressured by all the work they had in school and started to use drugs because they thought they would help,” junior Sierra Agarwal said.

Drug use is not a safe or healthy way to deal with stress; however, some students feel that their academic performance is not impacted by their drug use.

“I really don’t think that weed will affect what makes our school system so good. People don’t understand how good of a school system we have here,” our source said. “People here are going to Harvard. People here are going to Yale. That doesn’t happen everywhere. And those people are [using drugs].”