HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Just one week into 2023 and a Hays CISD student is dead from a fentanyl overdose. The Hays County Sheriff’s Office told KXAN it happened on Jan. 2.

“To start the new year, we’ve already — we have a student from Hays CISD who unfortunately did succumb to a fentanyl-related poisoning,” said Anthony Hipolito, a Hays County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

This has been an ongoing battle for the school district after losing four of its students to overdoses last year.

The news comes as a fentanyl awareness billboard was unveiled next to I-35 in Kyle.

image of fentanyl awareness billboard with three hays cisd students who passed from overdoses.
Rodriguez said they are able to rent this billboard space for four months thanks to donations from the community. (KXAN Photos/Sarah Al-Shaikh)

It shows three Hays CISD students who died from fentanyl in 2022. The people behind the billboard are the parents of those students.

The idea originally came from parent Janel Rodriguez, who lost her son Noah to fentanyl in August 2022.

“It was really emotional to see it, you know. But I’m super proud,” Rodriguez said.

“To have these boys’ faces up there…these kids can see like, you know, this is real life,” Rodriguez said.

Shannon and Darren McConville were completely on board with the idea. Their son Kevin died just a few weeks before Noah.

“Millions of people drive this freeway every day. The more information we get out there to the public, to our community, then hopefully, we can all rally together and try to stop this,” Darren said.

The news of the most recent Hays CISD student death hit Rodriguez hard, but she said it also pushes her and others to continue raising their voices.

“Just makes me want to fight even harder. I will do whatever I have to to let these kids know like this stuff is no joke,” Rodriguez said.

One of the ways she does that is with a website called Forever15Project where she spreads awareness of the dangers of fentanyl.

The Hays County Sheriff’s Office reported a total of 37 fentanyl overdoses in 2022, 14 of which involved juveniles between 13 and 17 years old.