Schools prepare for substance abuse prevention week |

Schools prepare for substance abuse prevention week

Amy Hamilton

An annual effort to keep children drug-free is right around the corner.

Between Oct. 27-31 students in the Moffat County School District will recognize Red Ribbon week.

District elementary schools have a full lineup of activities with dress-up days and themes planned for each day of the week. High school activities include a video presentation by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and a Friday night drug and alcohol free Halloween party after the football game.

The events sponsored by Grand Futures Prevention Coalition and the school district aim to show students the negative effects of using drugs that may potentially harm themselves and others.

“Statistics show that students are less apt to experiment with drugs and alcohol if they are taught about it early on,” said Misty Schulze, a diversion officer with the Moffat County District Attorney’s office.

As a Grand Futures board member and in her role with the DA, Schulze said she’s seen an increase in the last four or five years of students using drugs and alcohol. According to a recent study, alcohol abuse by local high school students is 40 percent higher than in other communities, she said.

“They’re not just doing it on the weekends,” Schulze said. “Some are drinking every night.”

Drug use among students and the community is a growing concern among law enforcement, she said.

Schulze’ s office has witnessed a sharp increase in methamphetamine use in the last two years. And the ages when students experiment with drugs and alcohol tend to be receding. Schulze noted a recent case of a 6th grader bringing a pipe and marijuana to school.

Red Ribbon Week works to send a hands-on message to the elementary school students that drugs are destructive but many of the details are left out because they may be inappropriate for young students, said Sunset Elementary School Principal Jim Rugh.

“What we try to promote is a healthy lifestyle,” he said. “We keep part of the overall program going throughout the year as part of our health curriculum.”

Rugh thought the highlight of week for students might be when students announce a pledge not to do drugs.

“There’s definitely excitement among the kids that all other ones are doing it, too,” he said.

At the high school level, numbers and statistics aren’t an effective way to get the message across that drugs and alcohol are harmful, said Cindy Biskup, the director of Grand Futures.

A hard-hitting video presentation or speakers who talk about their demons with drugs or alcohol abuse make more of an impact.

“We’ve had girls that leave the presentations crying,” Biskup said.

A Red Ribbon display set up in a high school hallway does a good job of showing the effects of drug and alcohol abuse. Before and after pictures of a meth user visibly show the detrimental effects of how the drug can eat at the body. In another scene, the heading, “Is one of your classmates trying to kill you?” rests above a real-life car wreck scene after a youth drove a car while under the influence.

High School Senior Nick Raschke paused by the display on Friday and named the bottles of alcohol, “Kahula” and “Budweiser.”

But in place of the advertisements the bottles said phrases like, “Depressant- King of Stupidity,” and “What do you want your headstone to say?”

“It really doesn’t mean that much to me, but it does show that they care,” Raschke said, of the Red Ribbon effort. “I think it really means a lot to the younger kids.”

The week is dedicated to showing students that prescription drugs and alcohol and party drugs like ecstasy are just as dangerous as the “hard drugs.”

“When kids think of illegal drugs they think about cocaine and heroin,” said Schulze. “In the last three years, there’s been a real insurgence of drugs here. Now it’s funneling down to the kids.”

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or

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