Red Ribbon Week: Students say no to drugs!

Alanna Rubio is “sentenced” for driving drunk during a mock court hearing at the Hillview Middle School’s Red Ribbon Week Awareness Assembly Wednesday.

PALMDALE – To the hundreds of students gathered in Hillview Middle School’s gymnasium Wednesday afternoon, the message was clear: Say no to drugs!

“It can ruin your life,” said eighth grader, Alanna Rubio.

“You can’t drive under the influence, especially if you’re young, because you’ll get in a lot of trouble,” said eighth grader Jasmine Centeno.

“Don’t fall for peer pressure and say no to drugs,” said eighth grader Henschel Smith.

Nearly 1,000 students attended the assembly.

The students got the message at an Awareness Assembly held in honor of Red Ribbon Week, a nationwide observance from October 23-31 to raise awareness and promote a drug free environment. The assembly also included simulated traffic stops and mock trials where students were “sentenced” to substance abuse rehab in California as a consequence for driving under the influence.

Palmdale Crime Prevention officer, Ruth Oschmann, and deputies from the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station’s motorcycle patrol talked to the students about the dangers of drug use and driving under the influence.

Oschmann stressed the importance of avoiding illegal drugs, as well as prescription and other over the counter medications.

“There are a lot of things that kids have access to that parents aren’t thinking about when they think of drug abuse or drug prevention…” Oschmann said. “We forget to mention the prescriptions, over the counter drugs, and things that you can find at home that they’re getting high with.”

To bring the point home, the deputies chose students from the audience to participate in mock traffic stops, field sobriety tests and simulated arrests.

The deputies also held mock trials after the simulated arrests to give students a better idea of the long term negative impacts of driving under the influence.

Taylor Stephenson is “caught” with prescription pills during a mock arrest.

During the traffic stop, passenger Taylor Stephenson was “busted” with a bottle of prescription pills. He was ultimate arrested for possession of a controlled substance and hit with a one year probation term, a six-moth drug treatment program and a $500 fine in “court.”

Stephenson said he learned a valued lesson in the process.

“You can’t take your mom’s, or your grandma’s, or your sister’s prescription pills and use it because it’s wrong,” he said. “And you shouldn’t ride with a drunk driver because you’ll still get arrested.”

Oschmann said the exercises were essential to getting the message through to students.

“It seems to engage them more and gives them more of that feeling of a real life experience,” Oschmann said.

“It’s nice for the kids to see the officers and understand just how much they do for our community to make our community a safer place,” said Principal Rob Garza. “We appreciate them coming out and giving their time.”

Other Red Ribbon Week activities being held at Hillview Middle School this week include a basketball tournament and various themed days such as “Get High on Sports, Not on Drugs” and “Soar in School, Not in Drugs.”

National Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and the largest antidrug effort in the country. The first statewide Red Ribbon Week was sponsored in California in October 1986 in response to the murder of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Agent assigned to a case in Mexico.