The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

October 24, 2012

Stocks Elementary Walk-a-Thon successful

The Daily Southerner

TARBORO — The sounds of laughter and “Cupid Shuffle” filled the air as McGruff the Crime Dog and local police officers walked the Stocks Elementary School track with parents, students and teachers Tuesday afternoon. The walk was a celebration of living a drug-free lifestyle and came as part of Red Ribbon Week.

“I think it’s great, as far as the exercise and the teaching that they learn from it. When they get older, the experience never leaves them,” said Johnnie Fay Taylor, grandmother of first grader Jonah Taylor. Jonah gave a “high five” to Tarboro Police Sgt. Al Braxton after he walked around the track dressed in Stocks’ school colors of purple and gold.

“We hope what we teach them as young children will stick with them,” said Chief of Police Damon Williams. “If we don’t start teaching them about the dangers of drug use at a young age, we’re bound to lose them.”

This is the first year Stocks has had a walk to celebrate Red Ribbon Week. Twanna Dickens, the school’s guidance counselor, said partnering with the community plays a crucial role in educating the students to say “No” to drugs.

“I think it s important because they don’t just face issues of peer pressure at school but in the community, too,” Dickens said. She said she hopes establishing the “connection” with parents and community leaders will set the precedent for the community coming together to talk about important topics facing students today.

Dr. Brenda Hargrove, Stocks’ assistant principal, said Tuesday’s walk was the second school event this week involving community leaders. Monday evening, the fire department came to the Parent Teacher Organization meeting to talk about fire prevention.

“We are very thankful that they are supporting us and the students can get a more positive image of the police officers,” said Hargrove.

“Any chance we get to come out here and interact with the kids, the more the better,” Williams said. He said the police department started a crime prevention program earlier this year and has the goal of being “more visible in our local schools” to spread the message to children.