Special Reports

Red Ribbon Week: Students say drugs a mistake some will make

Each student at Central High in Phenix City attends a class warning about the dangers of using drugs.

It doesn’t stop the activity.

“There are still some students who do it,” said junior LaQuesha Hoskins. “It’s around the school and elsewhere. You can see it every day.”

“Drugs are easy for students to get in Phenix City,” said senior Darren Daniel.

Students, not only in Phenix City, but Columbus and LaGrange, Ga., discussed drugs this week and what should be done about them.

While Daniel said some Central students feel peer pressure to use drugs, junior Kearson Roberts remarked most drug users don’t invite other students to join them. However, she said, “they won’t turn you away.”

Counselors from TEARS (Teens Empowerment Awareness with Resolutions) are regulars at the school.

Sophomore Jonathan Wallace said he knew of no particular areas in town where drugs are more readily found than others.

“I hear it’s everywhere,” he said.

Central junior Reid Rhoden said more drug awareness programs might help but “there are still people who will choose to use drugs.”

Roberts said programs with “students talking straight to their peers” are the ones most likely to get teens to stop. Wallace agreed.

SADD at Spencer

In Columbus, the Muscogee County School District is doing its part to deal with the drug problem.

The MCSD will hold a variety of activities celebrating Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 26 through Oct. 30.

Students and teachers will be encouraged to wear red ribbons in support of a drug-free environment. Many classes will make banners to hang outside classrooms.

At Spencer High School, members of the school’s anti-drug campaign, Spencer Against Destructive Decisions, will do seat belt checks as students arrive in the morning. They will play Red Ribbon week trivia during the morning announcements and have a banner for students to sign saying they are drug free.

SADD members Devon Blackmon, a junior, and Quashundra Manuel, a senior, believe students pay attention to the organization’s drug free message.

“I got in SADD to help my peers know its OK to be drug free,” Manuel said.

Blackmon said older students can have a positive influence on younger students. She knows her younger sister looks up to her so she stays out of trouble.

Blackmon and Manuel said drug use could lead to crime.

“You start small,” Blackmon said.

“As you get older, it gets worse,” Manuel said.

Both said they don’t hear about drug use at their high school.

“I don’t surround myself with those people,” Blackmon said.

She also said extracurricular activities help keep students busy and away from drugs. Older students are also usually more focused, she said, thinking about the future, college and careers.

“The older they get the more serious they get,” she said.

Manuel said students thinking about getting into drugs should talk to an adult they trust.

“Go to someone to talk about it,” Manuel said.

Granger: It’s not cool

LaGrange High School students said they are not aware of any serious drug problems in their school or the area.

“I’ve never heard of anyone taking hard stuff,” LaGrange senior T.J. Harlin said.

Classmate Luke Criddle agreed. He said people at school certainly are not using heroin or creating meth labs.

LaGrange students said the school system plays a role in drug awareness and prevention, which is largely effective.

“I think the school system does a good job,” said Joe Farkus, a freshman.

“They do as much as they can,” Harlin said.

He added it would be impossible for school officials to reach everyone all the time.

At LaGrange, students said they are made aware in physical education classes of illegal substances and their danger.

Some recalled participating in D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), as elementary school students. A decade later, they still remember songs and lessons from the drug prevention activities.

A couple of students recalled speakers who recently shared specific stories about how drugs affected them. They said hearing first hand stories makes the consequences of drug use clear.

Criddle said the stories make students take pause.

These LaGrange students reported the people they know don’t use drugs or harbor serious addictions.

The most common drugs used are likely marijuana and alcohol but most students don’t abuse restricted substances.

Lindsey Cole said, “It’s not cool.”

Related stories from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer