Red Ribbon Week is set aside each year to educate students about the dangers of drugs.
“Red Ribbon Week is when we talk to the kids about saying ‘no' to drugs, and promoting a drug-free lifestyle,” said Portsmouth Elementary School teacher Shawna Queen. “We started on the 23rd and will run until Oct. 31st.”
The children create posters that are placed in windows and around the walls in the cafeteria, and the winning class for each grade level received dog tag necklaces furnished by the Portsmouth Police Department.
“I give a lot of credit to (Portsmouth Police) Chief (Charles) Horner,” said Police Sgt. Laura Davis, as she entertained the students. “He was instrumental in getting us the dog tags, the wrist bands and the posters. He is very supportive of the programs educating students about drugs.”
One of the most popular posters in the window read, “Red Rover Red Rover, we won't let drugs come over.”
Police officer Joe Shupert is no stranger to working with Portsmouth students. He's the school D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer.
“I do this four days a week. This is very fun,” Shupert said. “I'm here actually two days. I teach at Notre Dame, and at East Portsmouth and the (Sciotoville) Community School.”
Shupert said police interaction with children in schools has several advantages.
“It's very important for us to participate so the kids can see us, see officers. They become more acquainted with us, so they're not afraid of us, and then when we tell them certain things, like not to do drugs, we're more on their level. We're not the mean policemen any more,” Shupert said.
Queen was, like other members of the faculty and staff, as well as students, wearing her Portsmouth Trojans shirt wrong-side out.
“Today is ‘Don't let drugs turn you inside out', so all the kids have been asked to wear their clothes inside out,” she said.
Today is “Sock It To Drugs Day,” on the Red Ribbon Week agenda, with students and staff wearing crazy socks.
Monday, students and staff will wear their favorite team shirt as part of “Team up Against Drugs” day.
Tuesday will be “Living Drug Free Is No Sweat” day, in which students and staff wear sweatshirts and sweat pants.
The week will climax with the “Band Against Drugs” parade.
The entire school will participate in a parade around the area of the school.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.