By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
hillips Middle School students are learning to say “No” to drugs during Red Ribbon Week, the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation.
“It takes courage to say ‘No,’ especially when friends are experimenting with drugs,” said school social worker Shannon Hamm. “There’s a high probability that they’re going to be approached at some point to use drugs…I'm hoping they’ll think back to the presentations and this week in general to help them make positive choices.”
The theme of this year’s Red Ribbon Week is “A Healthy Me is Drug Free.” Hamm and school nurse Kathy Gray did classroom presentations on drugs and the health risks associated with them. Designing posters, decorating homeroom doors and taking a drug-free pledge were also part of the week, and Principal Lisa Howell said the students had gotten “really excited” about the activities.
“Overall, they’ve had a really good time and I think they’ve learned a lot,” Howell said.
“We made posters on drugs and what they can do to you and their effects,” said seventh-grader Jada Stansbury. “I learned that drugs can make people commit suicide.”
The students’ posters are hanging in the gallery of the school media center.
Sixth-grader Jamie Faircloth pointed to her poster, depicting a man in jail, a girl in a hospital bed and a man who recently died, all as a result of drugs or alcohol. Faircloth’s poster also broadcasts the slogan “Don’t get low, get with the flow.”
“Getting low” means doing drugs and getting to a low point in your life, where “the flow” means “being good and keeping yourself clean and healthy,” Faircloth explained.
School guidance counselor Angela Jones said reinforcement of the drug-free message is important in middle school because that’s the age when children often start experimenting.
“At this age, they’re more curious than ever and they’re trying to find themselves. They’re more easily influenced,” Jones said.
The students also decorated the doors of their classrooms based on the drug-free theme, and members of the community judged the doors on Wednesday afternoon.
Eighth-graders Alisha Thompson and Chy’Nautika Condery proudly showed off the door of their homeroom, covered with black paper, a black veil and a skeleton to illustrate the potentially deadly side effects of drug use. The message on the door was “Don’t Be Afraid To Say No…” with a picture of drugs at the bottom.
Students also learned about the consequences of bullying during the week, and a video on bullying stuck out in the minds of Condery and Thompson.
“I learned that bullying is not a good thing to do because it can really hurt somebody’s feelings and they can start having bad thoughts,” Condery said.
Thompson said the video depicted a student who turned on a friend “just to be popular,” and the girl (victim) started having suicidal thoughts after being bullied.
Red Ribbon Week ends today.