Elementary students put Mr. Drugs to rest

Published 11:28 pm Saturday, November 1, 2008

A funeral was held at Roseland Park Elementary Friday for a man that children can do without, Mr. Drugs.

Before the procession, the children each shared a chant or march about their stance on using drugs, all as part of a week-long program to teach children to just say no.

Friday was the last day for this year of the program that has been teaching school children about the dangers of drugs for the past five years, said P.E. Teacher Hollis Fortenberry. Part of the program involved Community Policing officer Capt. Theresa Milar from the Picayune Police Department visiting the school to speak to the children, said Principal Vicki Vaughn.

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Every student from Kindergarten to Sixth grade participates in the program, Vaughn said. Friday was the program’s finale where each class performed a practiced march or chant such as “Just Say No”, “Beat ’em Like a Drum”, “Trashing Drugs to the Dump” and “Slapping Drugs in their Face”, Fortenberry said.

After each class presented its chants, a funeral procession was held for Mr. Drugs. Afterward, the children placed flowers on his mock casket.

Fortenberry said he conducts the program to teach the children the impact drugs could have on their lives. He said he implements his teaching in poems, lessons, and role playing. Lessons teach children about the dangers of drugs such as overdose, addiction, alcoholism, jail time and even death.

He also teaches the children what to look for in their neighborhood and what to say to stay away from drug activity. If drugs are offered to them, Fortenberry said he teaches the children to “just say no” and stay away from those people. Through positive reinforcement Fortenberry said he teaches the children not to succumb to peer pressure.