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Schools emphasize anti-drug efforts during red ribbon week

BARSTOW — Visitors to the local schools will likely be seeing red this week.

Every year during the last week in October, students across the country symbolically don red ribbons and pledge not to use drugs or alcohol as part of a national prevention campaign.

In Barstow, the week always begins with breakfast. A few students from each school in the Barstow and Silver Valley districts and their school principals are invited to a breakfast with city and law enforcement officials at the Barstow Elks club.

“This event kind of starts off the week for the kids.. We are trying to show them that we care and that we honor their efforts not to use drugs,” said Cheri Magorno director of the breakfast for the Barstow Emblem Club, the event’s sponsor.

She said that this is the 17th year the club has sponsored the breakfast and likes the interaction between students and community members. Mayor Lawrence Dale, representatives, from the Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, members of local law enforcement agencies and community organizations ate with the students.

Some students in attendance give speeches to the crowd explaining their reasons to stay drug and alcohol free.

“This is a way to show people that you don’t have to use drugs to have a good time,” said Danielle Chavez, 17, a senior at Barstow High School and president of the school’s Sober Club.

Chavez said that the club has 150 members who participate in substance free activities and pledge not use drugs.

Congress established the national red Ribbon campaign in 1988 after Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Enrique Camarena was murdered by drug traffickers in 1985.

During the week, local schools distribute pencils and ribbons to the students and individual classrooms plan activities to promote anti-drug awareness.

Barstow police officer Dante Caliboso, the school resource officer for the Barstow district, said that he appreciates the educational efforts to prevent youth from using drugs. He works five days a week at Barstow High School with students and said that while he hasn’t seen a lot of controlled substance abuse or drug use at the schools, some students use marijuana or alcohol off-campus and come to class impaired.

He said that the schools “very actively enforce” anti-drug and alcohol rules and students thought to be using drugs are given field sobriety tests to check for physical signs of impairment.

“You can lie about using drugs, but your body doesn’t lie,” he said.

Students found to be under the influence or possessing drugs can face police citations and school penalties including suspension or expulsion.

In efforts to detect drugs at the high schools, both the Barstow and Silver Valley districts use drug-sniffing dogs from the Interquest Detection Canines company to randomly search classrooms.

Caliboso said that he’s seen the dogs used twice this school year at the high school but they have yet to find drugs.

Silver Valley schools’ assistant superintendent Scott Sypkens, said that while some students choose to use drugs, the majority do not.

“According to principals it’s not a big problem in our schools. Once in a while those issues do come up but we have the pieces in place to deal with that.”

He said that substance use education is integrated into the health and science instruction in the primary and secondary schools and the district has a program called “Too good for drugs,” to discourage younger students from substance use.

Contact the writer:

(760) 256-4126 or jason_smith@link.freedom.com


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