Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021 | 2 a.m.
A small crowd quieted as Landynn Meyers stepped up to the microphone at an event commemorating the victims of drug overdoses.
“My name is Landynn; I’m kind of nervous,” he said before diving into a painstaking summary of his young life: the abuse that led him to start drinking and smoking marijuana, the harder drugs that followed, stealing from people just to get a fix.
Mission High School, which specializes in helping students recover from addiction, saved his life, he said.
The 18-year-old graduated last term as a Clark County School District Star Graduate, a recognition bestowed upon 45 students for academic excellence or for overcoming odds.
Now three years sober, Meyers hopes to one day help counsel other young people. He’s working to return to Mission High as a peer recovery specialist.
It’s about “giving back what they gave to me and helping youth just get sober, and just showing them that they’re not alone,” he told the crowd at the event at an east Las Vegas community center.
The attendees cheered.
Meyers has come a long way from what he described as a drug-induced “fog,” days when he didn’t care if he lived or died. “Some days, I didn’t even want to wake up,” he said in a recent interview. “Some days I didn’t even want to live.”
A close call with an overdose at age 14 led him to enroll at Mission High, which is tucked in a neighborhood near Las Vegas Boulevard North and Washington Avenue.
He had tried unsuccessfully to get clean. “Mission was my last chance,” he said. “If this didn’t work, I wouldn’t be here.”
Luckily, it did work, though it wasn’t easy.
“It’s been a struggle every day, every year, every week, every month, every second,” Meyers said. “I just keep going.”
Principal Barbara Collins remembers Meyers’ first day at school. He was “quiet and awkward,” she said. Rene Rehmel, the school’s drug and alcohol counselor, said she encountered a child who was shy and whose initial drug assessment was troublesome.
But it wasn’t long before teachers saw the boy’s potential when he started speaking up.
“They opened up their arms and gave me love,” Meyers said. “They started loving me, so then I started opening up.”
Collins said Meyers had the desire to change. “Since then, we’ve seen him just grow and mature into this young man that continues to want to do something different, better and to give back,” she said.
Collins went as far as coordinating with CCSD to get him a position on the Mission staff as he continues his higher education studies. Meyers is applying for a federal grant from the AmeriCorps’ recovery education program to get his career launched a recovery counselor and Rehmel will be his mentor. The program provides a stipend to assist with schooling and basic supplies like a computer.
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Collins has been at Mission High since it was founded five years ago. Scribbled in blue ink on a white board are numbers tracking the school’s progress by the number of graduates — one in 2018; 12 in 2019; 11 in 2020; and 10 this year.
But graduation rates are not the only way she measures success. Sometimes, it’s just survival. “If they’re doing drugs and they don’t live, what does it matter if they were at school?” she said.
Collins and Rahmel often find themselves helping students with food, clothing or transportation. “If they’re not getting their needs met, those basic needs, they’re not going to learn,” Collins said.
One of the 21 students enrolled at Mission High recently told Collins that he planned to stay clean “because of what he’s developed here” and “that this is home for him,” Collins said.
At least five children have died in Clark County from drug overdoses this year, four from fentanyl, according to Metro Police.
“We all know that there are kids out there that are hurting,” said Collins, who wishes more sought out the school, which has room for about 100 students.
“We’re here,” Collins said. “If they want help and they want to change, here we are. We’re open.”
After all, it’s personal for Rahmel, who accomplished 26 years of sobriety this month and can still vividly remember how “something changed inside of me and I had the motivation to continue recovery.”
She hopes the same path for Meyers, whom she envisions as taking over the mantle at Mission High when she retires in a few years.
Meyers said the opportunity to make a difference was one he cherished.
“Most of these kids don’t have support like I do, and I want to be that support to them. I want to be that person that can take them to different places and show them that there’s a light in the dark tunnel,” he said.
The school is hosting an open house and resource fair 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 13. Visit missionhighschool.ccsd.net or call 702-799-7880 for details.