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Schools Celebrate Red Ribbon Week
From the planting of a tree in Farmington to poster contests at Dent, to a performance by the Peer Interaction Team at Escalon High School, Red Ribbon Week was marked with a variety of events, all focusing on a drug free life.

Fifth grade students at Farmington Elementary did the ceremonial tree planting, with the tree serving as their gift to students they will leave behind on the rural campus when they head to El Portal Middle School next year.

"I want to have that connection, how we care for ourselves and care for plants equates to long life, beauty and health," Farmington Principal Bob Amato noted of the symbolism of the tree planting. "The bottom line is, give them the message."

That message, which was echoed around all schools in the district over the past week, is to stay away from drugs.

Dent Elementary students enjoyed visits from sheriff's deputies and participated in poster contests, while there were essay and poster contests at other sites as well.

Everywhere around the district, children took pledges to stay away from drugs, enjoyed a variety of dress up days and learned about ways to deal with peer pressure and how to stand up for what they believe in.

Officials at Farmington thanked the owners of the local Duck Creek Nursery for donating the tree for planning and some 160 pumpkins, so every student at Farmington had one to carve as a jack-o-lantern for Halloween.

At Dent, deputy Barry Balance visited with his K9 partner Sergo.

"It's a positive contact," he said. "We're not here because got in trouble or somebody got hurt. It helps us down the road if we do have to make contact with them. And they love the dog."

Escalon High students learned about the KIDS, Kanine Interdiction and Detection Service, dogs in a morning assembly on Friday and then watched as the PIT, Peer Interaction Team, put on a series of skits with the drug-free theme. The vignettes basically pointed out the dangers of doing drugs, from health problems to legal issues and more. Highlights of the assembly were a performance by 'The Side Street Boys' and a skit spoofing 'The Crocodile Hunter,' who was tracking drug users and identifying their risky 'wild' behavior.

The performance ended with a PIT group rap, written by Hailey Homen, to live life the drug-free way.

"That's a big part of what PIT is all about, a 'moral compass' for lack of a better term," Escalon High principal Joel Johannsen explained. "We look for them to be setting the example for kids."

Drug and alcohol use and abuse will happen, the principal added, but the goal is to keep it under control and give kids the best information they can to help them realize the potential consequences of their actions.

"It's not a one size fits all remedy," he said. "We have to attack the issue from many sides."