Lifestyle

Brooklake students ‘just say yes’ to drug-free living

Brooklake Christian School fourth-graders (from left) Claire Thorson, Mita Ivanchenko, Jazmine Pope, Kaitlyn Vondran, Rayna Wolff, Dana Wolf and Grace Pierson, along with other classmates, smile and give high-fives to a DEA agent dressed as a dog. Teacher Julie Friedland encourages her students to hoot and holler during the school
Brooklake Christian School fourth-graders (from left) Claire Thorson, Mita Ivanchenko, Jazmine Pope, Kaitlyn Vondran, Rayna Wolff, Dana Wolf and Grace Pierson, along with other classmates, smile and give high-fives to a DEA agent dressed as a dog. Teacher Julie Friedland encourages her students to hoot and holler during the school's Red Ribbon Campaign parade leading up to an anti-drug presentation.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

Law enforcement representatives gathered at Brooklake Christian School on Oct. 6 to deliver a message to its student body: "Just say no" to drugs and alcohol.

The Federal Way police; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; FBI; Washington State Attorney General's Office; and Washington State Patrol visited Brooklake to offer the anti-drug message during the DEA's annual Red Ribbon Campaign week. The school is a private establishment located in Federal Way and operated as a ministry of the Brooklake Community Church.

"We just thought it would be a very inspiring time for them and they would see law enforcement in a very positive light and be inspired to live clean lives," Brooklake principal Cathy Guy said.

Mark C. Thomas, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge, asked each of the preschool through eighth-grade students to pledge to live a drug-free lifestyle. The students joined in chants of "just say no," led by the speakers.

Several of the speakers told the students drugs are bad. The youths were encouraged to stay away from drugs and alcohol — and report to a trusted adult, teacher or police if their friends were using drugs, or if they had been offered illegal substances.

Federal Way interim city manager Brian Wilson, formerly the city's police Chief, told the kids their teachers and those in attendance at the Red Ribbon ceremony care about them. That is why they asked the students to make the drug-free pledge, he said.

Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste was the keynote speaker.

"There's nothing good, nothing good at all, about illegal drugs," Batiste said. "They can mess up your body and your future."

Batiste provided a brief explanation and told the students they do not need drugs to have a good time. He reminded them of the ceremony's opening activities, which involved a parade of law enforcement vehicles and personnel, drug-sniffing dogs, a helicopter flyover and lots of encouraged screaming and enthusiasm by the students. Guy said the students enjoyed the presentation and were still excited about it the next day.

The Red Ribbon ceremony was accompanied by drug education in the classroom, Guy said. There, teachers expanded on the "just say no" slogan. Workbooks, story books and coloring pages for the younger kids help explain the importance of remaining drug free, Guy said.

"We certainly cover it in our health curriculum and the subject comes up frequently in our Bible lesson," she said. "It's a subject that is frequently discussed in all the grades."

Posters attached to the walls of the Christian school also encouraged a sober lifestyle.

"Drugs, tobacco and getting drunk are bad. Stop doing them or God will be mad," read one poster. "Don't do drugs, get lots of hugs," read another poster.

The national Red Ribbon Campaign to keep kids off drugs began soon after undercover DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena Salazar was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in 1985. Camarena was working in Guadalajara, Mexico, attempting to dismantle a marijuana and cocaine trafficking group at the time. The group kidnapped and bludgeoned him to death.

The incident made national headlines. The public and DEA continue to honor Camarena's sacrifice by participating in the Red Ribbon Campaign.

"There's no doubt that pledging a drug-free life is the best way to honor Kiki Camarena," Randy J. Pepple, Washington State Attorney General's Office Chief of Staff, said at the Brooklake ceremony.

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