Pubdate: Fri, 28 Oct 2005
Source: Redlands Daily Facts (CA)
Copyright: 2005 Redlands Daily Facts
Author: David James Heiss
Bookmark: (Youth)


REDLANDS Ian Atkinson had to be one of the proudest fifth-graders this morning.

His uncle, George Karcher, a deputy sheriff with the San Bernardino County 
Fire Department, landed an MD500 helicopter on the field of Mentone 
Elementary School as part of an assembly this morning to conclude Red 
Ribbon Week.

Ian's mom, Christine Karcher, helped arrange for the visit, and accompanied 
Ian at the assembly, during which Principal Jim O'Neill warned his students 
about the dangers of "the great destroyer."

He made them cross their hearts and pledge not to do drugs.

"There is no reason to destroy your smile, to destroy your family; no 
reason to destroy your life, your country just because you wanted to try 
drugs," O'Neill said. "I beg you to not make that first bad choice."

Capt. Will Jennings, of San Bernardino County Fire Station 9, which is next 
door to the school, came over to make a statement to the students.

"We often have to go help people who are sick from doing drugs," Jennings 
said. "You must never, ever try them once. We go out and see people every 
day who are sick. Once you do drugs, you can't ever be something you may 
have always wanted to be a policeman, a fireman, or something else."

George Karcher described what his helicopter can do. The chopper's stats 
elicited "oohs" and "aahs" from the students.

"We use this for patrolling," he said. "It's got a 30 million candlepower 
spotlight, an infrared locator, and it goes 170 m.p.h. There are very few 
crooks who can get away from us they have to be driving a Maserati or 
something. We also look for lost kids. We'll fly over and turn on the PA 
system. Ninety-nine percent of the time they are at a friend's house 
playing X-box. Usually they hear their name and run home crying, but at 
least they're safe."

Students got to walk by and check out the helicopter, while representatives 
from Fire Station 9 handed out pins stamped with the theme "Red Badge of 
Courage" that were made by the school.

The Red Ribbon Week message was clear for second-grader Lizeth Castro, who 
echoed what she heard: "No drugs, because you might get sick."

Fifth-grader Elizabeth Garcia commented, "Most people say yes when people 
ask if they want to do drugs. If you do it, you can't stop."

"You shouldn't do drugs because it could ruin your health: you could get 
addicted to it and it's hard to stop," said fifth-grader Andrea Paar.

"Red Ribbon Week encourages me not to do drugs not specifically this week, 
but every day," said fifth-grader Skyler East.
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