All this week, Peer Helpers at LHHS have forgone an extra hour in their warm, dry beds to travel to elementaries around the neighborhood, performing their anti-drug play and interacting with students. The program celebrates Red Ribbon Week, a national Say No to Drugs campaign in schools.

“The kids are so cute,” LH senior Haley Gerik told me. “When we went to Lake Highlands Elementary, they boo’d me because I represented drugs. It was great.”

“The best part was seeing the look on the kids’ faces when I roundhouse-kicked Brandon Mason, who played a drug dealer,” added junior Wilson Gillespie. “I was the Superhero who overcomes drugs, and they all cheered for me.”

“After the show, we go into the classrooms of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, and it’s amazing what questions they ask us,” said senior Lisa Van Amburgh, who served as student director for the play. “We teach refusal skills, and we role play and let them practice.” I asked the actors if they regretted having to get up early to reach out to the children. “Oh no, I love being a Peer Helper,” replied Haley. “This morning, doing the play made me late getting to class to take a test I was worried about. Sometimes it’s a sacrifice, but it’s worth it, knowing you made a difference.”

“It’s an honor to be selected for Peer Helpers,” senior Melanie Trostel agreed. “They asked students ‘who do you trust to go to with your problems,’ and those of us who were named went to the top of the list.”

Red Ribbon Week will be celebrated at LHHS next week, with students invited to dress in accordance with the theme for the day. Monday they’ll wear flip flops for “Don’t let drugs flip you out!” Tuesday, they’ll “Sock it to drugs,” by wearing crazy socks. Wednesday, it’s “Drugs are wacky, dress tacky.” Thursday, they’ll wear western wear to “Boot out drugs.” And Friday, they’ll don their favorite team jersey to help “Team up against drugs.” Students will also have an opportunity to view the wrecked car on display on campus, a graphic visual reminder of the results of drinking and driving.