Voters in four rural school districts will have one last opportunity Tuesday to cast ballots for their choice for trustees to serve on the school board.
Saltillo High School graduates Chanda Neal and Garrett Sustaire this weekend became members of an elite group, one composed exclusively of individuals earning National FFA’s highest award — the American Degree.
Red Ribbon Week is traditionally an educational week filled with anti-drug education, but at Sulphur Springs Elementary School, counselor Carey Lobin has taken the instruction a step further by adding a no-bully campaign and educational lessons.
“We always do an anti-bullying lesson here, but this week we have been taking each class into the library for an anti-bullying video,” said Lobin. “We want the students to recognize when they are being bullied, how to stand up for themselves and when to come to an adult.”
For the fourth graders, the short video during their library time was of other students who had been bullied and how it made them feel. After the video was over, Lobin asked the children how the students in the film felt.
“We want our students to understand empathy and how bullying hurts people. If we can get our students at a young age to understand what they do can affect other people, they will continue with those values as they get older,” she explained.
To conclude the drug -free and anti-bullying awareness campaigns for Red Ribbon Week, SSES held a Cat Rally Friday morning. DARE Deputy, Kelly Wiser, and Sulphur Springs Police Department K-9 officer Brian Shurtleff started off the rally emphasizing the importance of putting a stop to bullying in schools.
As the third and fourth grade classes filled the gym Friday morning dressed in superhero costumes in support of Red Ribbon Week, Wiser and Shurtleff were introduced to the audience.
“Who wants to learn about some very interesting things today?” asked SSES police officer, Dana Self. “I want everyone to listen and pay attention to the important things the people say today.”
Wiser reinforced what Lobin had been teaching the children all week by asking them bullying questions.
“Has anyone been bullied or been made fun of in school by your classmates?” asked Wiser.
Several students raised their hands and Wiser instructed them how to stand up for themselves or to tell an adult if they are too uncomfortable about what is happening. After Wiser finished, Shurtleff finished the educational portion of the Cat Rally by talking about how important it is to stay away from drugs. He also showed the students some of his SWAT gear and introduced the students to his dog, Ice. Shurtleff brought the dog into the gym with one of his toys. The cat rally ended with an award ceremony for students who behaved well in class and showed they understood Red Ribbon Week.
In response to the number one cause of death in Texas being auto accidents, State Farm Insurance joined forces with Mothers Against Driving to create a week long workshop on drunk driving for students in conjunction with Red Ribbon Week. The program has been taught in more than 300 high schools this week with 3,000 students being taught by MADD and State Farm representatives.
The program is entitled State Farm’s Celebrate My Drive teen driver safety initiative. In Sulphur Springs, MADD East Texas Program Specialist and Development Officer Kelli Martinez and Manager of Victim Services Carol King helped teach the workshop to more than a 1,000 students at Sulphur Springs High School this week. From 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., MADD staff taught a 47-minute course to each class that featured a video of two drunk driving accidents, followed by drunk driving statistics and educational information.
“After the video, we talked about the aftermath of the wreck,” said King. “I really hope they understand the importance of the educational information we are providing the student so that I do not have to help their parents or loved ones if something does happen. I deal with survivors — the parents who have lost their child in a wreck.”
King went on to explain the difficulty parents face while they are in the courtroom. The parents and other survivors will have to relive the experience by seeing the crash photos and personally seeing the offender if he survives the wreck. King emphasized that in a situation where the vehicle might have caught fire, the emotions the survivors go through are indescribable.
“I tell the students that this scenario is something no one wants to put their parents or your little sisters or brothers. Please pay attention to what we are trying to tell you,” she said.
Last year 1,213 deaths in Texas were attributed to drunk driving accidents, and an additional 16,882 alcohol-related crashes with injuries. King and Martinez are not only talking to students about these effects, but are also available with services for victims of driving drunk.
“We provide free services, such as emotional support, funeral arrangements if needed, counselors, impact panels and many other services to help victims of impaired driving accidents. Many people don’t realized that wrecks can be caused not only by alcholol and illegal drugs but prescription medication,” said King. “Many times people do not pay attention to the warning on the back of medication bottles, which can affect their driving ability.”
MADD of East Texas, headquartered in Tyler, is currently trying to branch out further into Hopkins County by implementing Victim Impact Panels to change the perception of repeat offenders. In the program, offenders are faced with people who might have lost everything in an alcohol-related crash.
“A real victim of a impaired driving accident will come and speak to known drunk driving offenders. They have a powerpoint presentation that shows the offenders what their life was like before the accident and how the event changed their lives,” said King.