ATWATER — The first vignette shows a pharmacy. Then there are scenes from juvenile hall, a courtroom, probation and counseling officers, a party, hospital emergency room and a funeral home.
All of these scenes are part of todays daylong Drug Store Project at Mitchell Senior Elementary School in Atwater. About 600 sixth-graders from all Atwater schools will participate in a sobering experience designed to demonstrate the potential consequences of drug use.
Nancy Ruble, the special programs director with the Atwater Elementary School District, said the program empowers students by giving them the tools to make the right decisions.
We believe the Drug Store Project, in addition to drug-prevention curriculum through the classrooms, provides our students with the necessary knowledge to make the right choices, Ruble said. The program provides students with a very realistic demonstration of what can happen to one who chooses to be involved in substance abuse. The program also places an emphasis on the legal, health and social aspects of substance use and abuse.
The Drug Store Project was launched seven years ago under the direction of Jennifer Handy, who now serves as the principal of Bellevue School. She is the president of the Atwater Caring About Kids Community Council, which involves nearly 20 organizations.
Its a fantastic event, Handy said. It brings the community together, and its great to see the impact it has on sixth-grade students and the community.
Joe Hoffar, a district trustee and board member of the Kids Community Council, said the number of community organizations participating in the Drug Store Project is impressive.
We have a lot of success stories that start here, Hoffar said. We talk to the children when theyre in seventh and eighth grade, and they always remember the program because of the powerful images delivered to them.
Hoffar said a judge, attorneys, probation officers, emergency medical technicians, clergymen, police officers, firefighters and a National Guard sergeant work with students. He said their efforts have had a positive impact on those who participate in the program.
Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.