LA JARA — Dressed in their athletic letter jackets and brimming with enthusiasm, some members of the Centauri Falcons state trophy winning teams showed their commitment Sunday night.
Other high school students shared that commitment as younger students watched with appreciation.
Honor students and other stand-outs have been working hard to impart an anti-addiction message to their younger friends, and that work will continue as schools begin a new academic year.
The North Conejos School District is ground zero of this strategic message, as high school students work with Superintendent Curt Wilson to empower kids in kindergarten and elementary school to battle addiction and shield them from its dangers.
It hasn't gone unnoticed. The evening of Aug. 12, they became "TV stars" as KDVR Denver reporter Shaul Turner aired a special on what they are doing.
In the film, a classroom at La Jara Elementary School comes alive with chants and applause as a group of high school students led a rap song they wrote about addiction.
“Lions and tigers and bears oh my, drinking and smoking and drugs goodbye,” they chanted.
School district administrators and teachers looked on with excitement, hope and pride.
They are fighting for the survival of their young students and family members, refusing to let the nationwide opioid epidemic dictate how their story will end.
Wilson said peer-to-peer outreach is an excellent way to get through to children.
Utilizing the influence of those they look up to such as high school athletes is even better.
“It is good to hear from our own students that not everybody’s doing (drugs) and there are people who are staying clean and staying away from that stuff,” Wilson said.
Wilson goes on to explain the plan is based on “a proactive approach to stop the problem before it begins.”
The students put on a presentation that is creative, engaging, unique, clever and extremely well-produced, Wilson noted.
A question and answer session checked the young audience’s knowledge of over-the-counter drugs found around the house, such as cough syrup.
The Anderson twins put on a skit featuring an impression of a young man suffering from symptoms of addiction.
Other students point out how staying on the right track means being able to compete in sports and enjoy “the good life." Centauri student Tona Lavadour said they want the children to understand that “drugs physically mess with your body and it can take you down in ways you don’t ever want to see.”
TV producers observed the school staff and Centauri students show a clear and unwavering commitment to their community.
“Just look at the fire in their eyes; they can be anything they want to be,” La Jara principal Ricky Salazar agreed.
The group chanted more of the Centauri rap.
“Don’t be a fool and don’t do crack, talk to a teacher and stay on track.”
“As long as we have the kindergartners and they’re ready to go and they want to learn and become something great, there’s always hope,” Salazar said.
Parents should note the signs of addiction, which can include isolation, mood swings and failing grades.