Pubdate: Tue, 07 Nov 2006
Source: Journal Times, The (Racine, WI)
Copyright: 2006 The Journal Times
Author: Brent Killackey
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Red Ribbon Week)


Students At St. Richard School Lean All Year Long
About Staying Drug-Free

RACINE - St. Richard School normally boasts blue uniforms for its
kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

But on Nov. 1, the school was a sea of red - red sweatshirts, red polo
shirts, red T-shirts and red jerseys.

Red ribbons also abounded - all with drug prevention messages for
national Red Ribbon Week, which St. Richard's highlighted with a big
morning gathering on the playground.

Students from all grades formed a giant human circle with a line
through it, illustrating in their own way a "just say no" symbol.
Three stories above, from the roof of the school, Principal Joe
Majowski and Journal Times Director of Photography Mark Hertzberg
photographed the event and preserved the students' message.

In addition to the human symbol, students tied red ribbons on the
fence to make the words "just say no."

The "just say no" program isn't new to St. Richard.

"A long time ago, we were one of the pilot schools for the program -
about 17 years ago," said third-grade teacher Diane Putra, who was
wearing a red T-shirt and a red "Respect Yourself, Don't Do Drugs"
ribbon. "We just kept it going."

St. Richard rolled the drug prevention program into the curriculum,
incorporating lessons throughout the school year rather than simply
holding a single, message-driving assembly, Putra said. The lessons
start in third grade. Teachers, parents and other guest speakers come
to talk about drug use - everything from tobacco and alcohol to
sniffing glue and steroids - and show the students some up-close and
hands-on displays of the effects of drugs.

"The pig lungs - that was gross," said seventh-grader Lyndsay Wilde,
who remembered seeing normal pig lungs and pig lungs damaged by smoking.

"We got to use these goggles that make you feel like you're drunk and
you can't do a lot of stuff," said fifth-grader Tiffany Powers.

Focus on Community, formerly the Racine Council on Alcohol and Other
Drug Abuse, wrote the curriculum that the school uses and continues to
offer its support, Putra said.

While there's no hard and fast data on whether the "just say no"
program is having an impact at St. Richard, Putra said students are
enthusiastic about it.

"I want to believe it makes a difference because we don't have Dare
(Drug Abuse and Resistance Education) anymore. We don't have Officer
Friendly anymore," Putra said.

She said there's nothing else exposing students to a drug prevention
message, except in the high schools and by then it's a little late.
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