Pubdate: Tue, 26 Oct 2004
Source: Standard Democrat, The (MO)
Copyright: 2004 DA Publishing, LLC
Author: Scott Welton
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Red Ribbon Week)


SIKESTON - While many are focused on the war in Iraq overseas, there
remains a war still not won on the home front: the war on drugs.

Red Ribbon Week is being celebrated this week throughout the Sikeston
Public School District to secure territory in this war before it's too

"If we don't start while they're young, they can develop those habits
and patterns that are harder to break as they get older," said Charon
Biggs, counselor at the Junior High School. "It's an excellent
opportunity for them to gain information in a non-threatening way."

Activities at the various schools are tailored to the

Biggs and her fellow counselor, Kim Thornbrough, encouraged school
clubs like the Green Peppers and Beta Club to take the lead on coming
up with activities at the Junior High School. "It's pretty
student-driven, we just guide it along," said Biggs.

Biggs said the junior high's students have the most fun with the "drug
related question" read each day over the intercom, after which each
class sends a representative to track down a staff member and find the

"We also do a 'Fatality Day,'" Biggs said. She explained that about
every 15 minutes a counselor dressed as the grim reaper will visit a
class and read an explanation of how a volunteer student has "died" a
drug-related death.

The student puts a black arm band on and doesn't speak until the end
of the day when all the "fatalities" go to the office and "share with
the entire student body how they lost their lives" over the intercom,
Biggs explained.

"I know that they get a lot of information given to them to make
better choices," said Jennifer Reynolds, secretary for the counselors
at the 5th Grade Center. "They hear from people who have not done
drugs and have gone on to do successful lives. We give them a lot of
facts that they can make better choices with."

On Thursday, Brenda Freed from the Scott County Health Department will
be the featured speaker at the 5th Grade Center "doing what they call
their 'Tar Wars' presentation," Reynolds said. "That's to discuss with
them what smoking does to their lungs and their bodies."

The presentation will include passing along "lots of unknown facts to
give the kids reasons not to smoke," Reynolds said. For the younger
kids, each day has a theme with special activities tied in to help
them remember the message.

The Kindergarten Center launched balloons Monday for "Give a Pop for
Drugs" day and handed out popsicles, according to Helen Hensley, counselor.

Today is "Shade Out Drugs" day at the center and kindergartners may
wear their sunglasses and favorite caps. Wednesday they will observe
"Don't Let Drugs Sneak Up on You" by wearing their sneakers. "We have
to tell them that's tennis shoes because they probably don't know that
(term)," Hensley said. Thursday the center is doing "Drugs are
Unbearable" and can bring their favorite teddy bear. "And then we're
going to have an assembly - the State Farm Good Neigh Bear will be
there," Hensley said. "He comes in and does some dances and we do our
cheers against drugs."

"Friday, of course, will be our Halloween party and our theme is 'Say
Boo to Drugs' and they're supposed to wear red and black," she added.

Counselor Kim Brooks said the same theme is scheduled Friday at
Southeast Elementary along with the slogan: "Don't Be Tricked, Drugs
Are No Treat."

Southeast students will be visited by Jeannie Williams, "the magic
lady," on Tuesday for the "It's Magical to be Drug Free" theme.

"On Wednesday, we have our theme 'Use Your Head - Don't Do Drugs,'"
Brooks added, "and everybody is to wear their craziest hair do."

Laveta Williams, physical education teacher at the Middle School, said
their students will get a treat each day at lunch consisting of a
different candy and anti-drug slogan. One day, for example, they will
get lifesavers: "Save your life - don't do drugs." On another day it
will be sour straws: "Drugs will sour your life - just say no."

The Middle School also has a "Don't Fall Behind - Just Say No" tree
display on wall in the cafeteria. Each student signs a leaf, "and the
leaves are posted around the tree," Williams said.

Sikeston Senior High School graduate Blake DeWitt, who was signed by
the Dodgers to play professional baseball earlier this year, visited
Lee Hunter Elementary Monday afternoon to sign autographs and talk
about how being drug free helped him in school, according to Crystal
Morrow, counselor.

"Friday we're having the big finale which is the Red Ribbon Wagon
parade, and we're 'Giving the Slip on Drugs' so we're wearing our
favorite house shoes," Morrow said.

At Matthews Elementary, they kicked off Red Ribbon Week with a parade
led by the local D.A.R.E. officer along with a fire truck, Sikeston
Senior High School cheerleaders and the high school's band.

Due to a scheduling change, Matthews Elementary students will have
even more activities than usual as this year Red Ribbon Week isn't the
same week as parent-teacher conferences. "It's going to last a little
longer - we're going to have it five days instead of only three," West
said. "The kids really enjoy the week."

In honor of the coming presidential election, many of the schools will
hold mock elections for the "I Elect to Be Drug Free" theme. Other
themes include "Put a Lid on Drugs" for which they may wear their
favorite hats and "Teaming Up Against Drugs" where they can wear their
favorite team jersey.
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MAP posted-by: Derek