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Footsteps: Pine Grove kids find clean motivation

These pine trees are dedicated to the memory of those pioneer families who chose to make this community their home. They gave of themselves in order to create a wholesome environment in which to raise their families. May we follow in their footsteps.”

— Inscription on a stone in front of Pine Grove School.

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Schools throughout Hood River County hold “Red Ribbon Week” anti-drug assemblies each fall, but few have the intimacy of Pine Grove Elementary, the county’s smallest school.

Last week’s Red Ribbon Week assembly matched the spirit of the inscription paying tribute to the community’s hardy pioneers.

When the speeches and skits were over at the Nov. 5 assembly, parents got into the act, joining an anti-drug song and march around the gymnasium.

High school students visited and spoke about the value of staying away from harmful substances. The smallness of the place made them seem even more nervous about speaking to a group.

“Drugs get in the way of what you want to do in your life,” Jacobe Krizman said, adding, “I’m not very good at this.” Several voices cried out, “Yes you are!”

“Drugs should not be in your schedule at any time,” was Eric Avila’s unusual approach. “Drugs are not cool; they are dumb.”

Luz Flores told the kids, “You all have somethng really good ahead of you. Drugs will not let you achieve your goals.” Armida Ramirez said, in Spanish and then translating to English, “Drugs are not going to help your problems. They will make it worse.”

But the real anti-drug message came from fifth graders, in presenting essays and staging brief skits on staying drug free and avoiding shoplifting and vandalism.

Generally, the youngsters concerned themselves with more practical matters than “staying with your goals,” or the running theme of “shoot for the stars, not drugs.”

Good principles to expose kids to, but not quite as compelling to a fourth-grader as, “Drugs make you lazy, stupid, and waste a lot of money,” as one student said.

Another said, “Your teeth are all yellow and your fingers have junk on them.”

One fifth-grader had the best advice of all:

“If you want to be fit, don’t do drugs,” he exhorted. “Instead, EAT TACOS!”

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