Educators use Red Ribbon Week to teach youths about dangers of drugs, alcohol

Argen Duncan

Roosevelt County students are writing essays, trying out drunkenness-simulation goggles and listening to law enforcement officers as part of National Red Ribbon Week.

The week focuses on encouraging students to avoid drugs. In Floyd, the schools also incorporated presentations on Internet safety and the role of alcohol and drugs in sexual assault.

“We do this because it’s Red Ribbon Week, and we not only want to give the kids at Floyd knowledge in reading and math, but wisdom to be successful in life,” said Floyd guidance counselor and Drug Free Coordinator Rossi Terry.

In Portales, students in eighth grade and younger are participating.

At Portales Junior High School, activities have included Penny Wars fundraising, dressing in themes and a presentation from the state police on the effects of alcohol and drugs and punishments for violations. The students also had a chance to have foot races with drunkenness-simulation goggles, facilitated by Portales Police School Resource Officer John Mondragon.

Eighth-grader McKenzie Bucksath said she thought such activities were good because they showed the school was aware of drug problems and they taught students to not become involved with drugs by showing the results.

“It’s not worth it,” she said. “You don’t want one moment to ruin the rest of your life.”

Bucksath and seventh-grader Kaycee Leary both mentioned seeing photos of people before and after drug abuse and remarked on the drastic changes they saw.

Leary said she’d learned through the education that drugs mess up people’s lives and are wrong no matter what age someone is.

“Once you take them, it’s really hard to stop,” she said.

PJHS guidance counselor Matt Alvarado said he wanted the students to realize drugs aren’t a game.

“The severity of getting started on drugs can have a lifetime effect on you and those closest to you,” he said.

In Floyd, middle and high school students’ education included programs by Tonya Burton of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, and by law enforcement officers on the dangers of alcohol, Internet predators and sexting.

Terry said Floyd Elementary School students are having a poster design contest, while Elida Elementary School students are competing with essays.

Floyd senior Teddy Garcia said from the presentations, he learned that once a photo is posted on the Internet, it’s there permanently. He used to think nothing bad happened in Floyd or Portales, Garcia said, but the presentations taught him that predators target small towns because there is less law enforcement to worry about.

Floyd Senior Nallely Mendoza said the presenters did a good job of explaining that students need to be alert and careful. The teaching reminds her of the drug-free lifestyle she learned at home, Mendoza said.

Alvarado said the effect of such education isn’t always apparent.

“It’s hard to gauge it immediately, but we’re hoping to plant the seed that will have an impact down the road,” he said.

If school personnel can intervene in students’ lives early, Alvarado said, it can have a bigger impact for the future.