Pubdate: Fri, 09 May 2003
Source: Times Daily (Florence, AL)
Copyright: 2003 Times Daily
Author: Lisa Singleton-Rickman


Ranger Program Offers Positive Reinforcement

Fifth-graders at Cherokee Middle School know the difference between good 
drugs and bad drugs. And they know which good drugs become bad ones when 

Their information has come through the Rangers Against Drugs program. For 
the past six weeks, students have had extensive lessons twice a week, 
explaining the dangers of drugs and how to make the right choices in life.

The National Park Service conducts the program.

The school's 67 fifth-graders were awarded a badge and certificate of 
completion Thursday in a ceremony in the school gymnasium. Each 
fifth-grader wrote an essay on what he learned from the program. 
Sixth-through eighth-grade students who went through the program as 
fifth-graders, watched and listened as winning essays were read.

One of the three first-place winners, Shelby Waddell, read his essay, 
saying there are many options a child can choose for walking away from 
drugs. "We are all unique, and everyone has a way out of that situation," 
Waddell said.

The guest speaker was Florence Fire Chief Charlie Cochran. He told students 
that the choices they make now will impact their futures either in a 
positive or negative way.

"It's simple, really," Cochran said. "Your passion for life centers around 
the choices you make. Your choice is to do drugs or not do drugs. Study 
hard or don't study.

"You know the right choices, and when you make them, you're taking 
responsibility. I hope you get to be my age and can look back on your life 
and say you'd do it all again."

Bradshaw High School senior Maggie Hendricks provided musical entertainment.

She urged students to form good, solid friendships.

"Pick your friends not because they're cool but because they care about you 
and your life," Hendricks said. "Remember, it's not the crazy people on the 
street who'll try to give you drugs. It's the people who know you trust them.

"Be true to yourself, and find good friends."

District ranger Calvin Farmer, who coordinated Thursday's program, had his 
own words of encouragement for the students, telling them to be of strong 

"Every day you look in the mirror and see who you are, and every day that 
changes," he said. "Make sure those changes are positives ones."
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