Kids screamed and shouted in excitement as a National Guard Black Hawk helicopter landed on the Lewis-Arriola Elementary School lawn Friday.
The helicopter crew visited the school as part of Red Ribbon Week, an anti-drug awareness campaign sponsored by the National Family Partnership. The campaign started in honor of Enrique Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration Agent who was killed on the job in 1985 at the age of 37.
National Guard Sgt. Sam Groff spoke to the students and urged them to say “no” to drugs and make good decisions. He told them about Camarena and how he had been a DEA agent who dedicated his life to protecting people from the influence of drugs. He told the kids that even though they’re young and aren’t faced with tough choices, people care about them and want them to make good decisions in the future.
“You’re surrounded by people who want you to make the best decisions you can make,” Groff told students, gesturing to the parents, teachers and firefighters who also attended the event. “When you get older, you’ll have to make tougher decisions.”
Groff had the students look to their classmates and say “I got you, buddy.” The kids raised their right hands and recited a pledge to never do drugs and to refuse them if they were ever offered drugs.
After the talk, the helicopter crew led the students around the aircraft for a closer look.
The helicopter previously landed at the Cortez Rec Center, where kids from Kemper Elementary School heard the same program.
Lewis-Arriola Principal Jim Parr said he seized the opportunity when National Guard officers contacted him about a helicopter appearance at the school.
“We don’t have opportunities like this often,” he said. “It’s a positive experience for these kids and the message is strong. It’s a great day for this.”