BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) — Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin stopped by Virginia High School on Thursday to speak with students about fentanyl during his trip to Southwest Virginia, calling it an epidemic.

Youngkin stated he heard about Virginia High’s recent work to bring awareness to substance abuse and wanted to congratulate that effort. Most importantly, Youngkin said he wants to start the conversation to understand what his constituents need.

First Lady Suzanne Youngkin, his secretary and a few state senators shared with Virginia High students the work they have done in legislation. Youngkin said he hopes the visit shares a message of hope and collaboration but knows this is a complicated issue.

“[It’s] a very complicated problem and so it’s a multifaceted answer. We’ve got to do all of it, not just pieces,” said Youngkin.

Many spoke in front of the governor to share how opioids and substance abuse have affected their lives.

Ezrah Pennington is a senior high schooler who traveled from Marion to share her story. She said it was hard to talk about, but knows she’s a voice for many others going through the same issue.

“Personally dealing with it in my family, I know other people do and I hope that I’m a light to help them get through it as well,” said Pennington.

Maggie Bundy is an English teacher at Virginia High who helped with the school’s fentanyl awareness presentations. She said she told her story of her brother’s substance abuse for the first time at the first event at the school last April.

“It never gets easier to talk about, but I always say, ‘I’ll share my story until it no longer helps.’,” said Bundy.

Bundy says another awareness event is scheduled at Virginia Middle School on April 24.

Youngkin said he’s pushing for approval of his budget for programs to aid in educating Virginia’s youth about opioids and substance abuse disorders.

Governor Youngkin signs bills into law to further the research and development of his state energy plan. (Photo: WJHL).

Youngkin will also be in Abingdon Thursday for a ceremonial bill signing marking the passage of legislation related to his “All American Lall-The-Above Energy Plan.” That bill signing will be held at the Energy DELTA Lab.