October 17, 2007 Edition

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Ralph Joseph Youth Leadership Program participants at WRHS taught drug and alcohol prevention to students in grades K-4 at Ben R. Bush Elementary. The youth leaders are (from left): Carrie Massey, Natalea Foster and Samantha Knight.

Youth leaders at WR teach
drug and alcohol prevention

Three Walnut Ridge High School juniors have been teaching elementary students to say no to drugs and alcohol. Their efforts are their chosen community service project as required by their participation in the Ralph Joseph Youth Leadership Program.

Natalea Foster, Samantha Knight and Carrie Massey chose drug and alcohol abuse prevention after participating in an exercise to determine positives and negatives about their school.

Samantha Knight said they first explored the idea of a campus cleanup project, but, instead, they decided to promote drug and alcohol abuse prevention.

"We felt like this was one (negative) we could help with and easily make a difference," said Natalea Foster.

"We felt like we could get more involved with other students with this project," Carrie Massey said.

On Friday, the youth leaders put on three assemblies for students from kindergarten through fourth grade. Each assembly included a brief skit, remarks by the youth leaders and questions posed to the students. They were also given age-appropriate booklets that suggest ways to say no to drugs.

Foster said, "We want them to go tell their friends and family (the drug-free message) ~ to pay it forward, pass it on."

Students signed their names on letters of the alphabet prior to assemblies. The letters were put together to the surprise of the students and say "Our pledge to be drug free." The sign will hang in the cafeteria through Red Ribbon Week.

"I have had so much fun with this. I've never been a cheerleader," said Massey, who portrayed a cheerleader in the skit.

The three youth leader participants said they had a lot of cooperation from the school, which purchased crowns and stickers for them to give each of the students. Lesa Walter, high school secretary, also made copies of the "Just Say No" booklets for them to present to each student.

The girls said they began working on their project the second day of school and often met during their lunch break to work on the project.

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