Pubdate: Wed, 27 Oct 2004
Source: Troy Messenger (AL)
Copyright: 2004 Troy Messenger
Author: Jaine Treadwell
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Red Ribbon Week)


Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, Troy Police Department public information
officer, isn't a preacher but he speaks with the conviction of one
when he talks to young people about drugs.

Scarbrough and Office Willie Toney, city school resource officer,
conducted a Red Ribbon assembly program at Pike Liberal Arts School on
Wednesday and neither minced words. They talked straightforward to the
students about a subject that is painfully serious.

"By Congressional law of 1988, the last week in October is Red Ribbon
Week, which is the symbol for a drug free movement," Scarbrough said.
"But the symbol isn't something that we should recognize for just one
week each year. We should recognize and understand its intent, every
day, 365 days a year and strive to live a drug free life. Being drug
free is a choice that's not made one or two days a week. It's a choice
that should be made seven days a week."

Toney told the students that guys who do drugs "give guys like me a

Toney expressed his displeasure dealing with those who do drugs and
sell drugs.

"Do I like my job?" he said. "No. But it feeds my family."

Toney spoke to the students about the importance of staying in school
and getting a good education in preparation for success in life. He
spoke to them about the dangers of easy money that comes from selling
drugs and participating in other illegal activities.

"Money that is earned the hard way is the best money to have," he
said. "Those that make their money the easy way give guys like me a

Toney spoke the hard, cold truth about doing and dealing

"You do drugs and you will go to jail," he said. "And, if you think
smoking and drinking are cool, they are not. How cool will it be when
your gums have been diseased by chewing tobacco or dipping and you
bite down on a steak and your teeth come out in the steak? How cool
will that be?"

Toney talked to the students about the pitfalls of submitting to
negative peer pressure.

"Be yourself," he said. "But if yourself is doing drugs then you need
to be somebody else. Make the right choices. Do the right thing. Not
just during Red Ribbon Week, but all the time."

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford attended the assembly and recognized the
winner of the 2004 Red Ribbon Essay Contest winner, PLAS eighth grader
Mary Vance Ventress.

Pike Liberal Arts eighth graders joined their peers in Troy schools by
participating in the essay contest, which was sponsored by the City of

Lunsford congratulated Ventress on her outstanding achievement and
presented her with a plaque and a savings bond.

"My dad is a policeman and my mother is a nurse so they talk to me
about drugs and what they can do to you," Ventress said.

"I think that the reason most kids get into drugs is that they think
it's a way to fit in. You don't have to do drugs to fit in. There are
other ways."

Ventress' essay expounded on three things that keep her from being
involved in drugs.

"The three things are clogging, cheerleading and church," she said.
"They keep me busy and they are things that I can do and fit in, so I
don't have to have drugs to fit in."

Ventress said that she doesn't know of any young people that do drugs,
but there are probably young people in Troy who are involved in drugs.

"You just need to keep busy and get involved in things that are good
for you and then you won't need to do drugs," she said.

As winner of the Red Ribbon Essay Contest, Ventress will be invited to
a meeting of the Troy City Council and given the opportunity to read
her essay to the council members.

The Troy Police Department also conducted a Red Ribbon Week assembly
at Troy Elementary School on Wednesday and will conduct assemblies at
New Life Christian Academy today, Charles Henderson Middle School on
Friday and Covenant Christian School at a time to be announced.
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