EDUCATION

Speaker, puppet and police reject drugs and alcohol

PAT FRIDGEN
Greencastle police officer Ben Thomas Jr., elementary student Ahmad Walker, and Officer Phil program speaker Mr. Mike entertain during an assembly. The topic was making good choices concerning drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.

The message came across loud and clear. The best way to stop doing drugs is ‘Don’t start’.

Mr. Mike, aka Mike McDade from Reading, visited Greencastle-Antrim Elementary School on Sept. 27 for the Officer Phil program. The assemblies for each grade level were sponsored by the Greencastle Police Department and Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.

With humor and magic tricks peppering his presentation, McDade drove home the point that the youngsters had the ability to make good choices, relying on their own common sense, the knowledge they gained from parents and teachers, and by being aware of people pressure.

Greencastle Police officer Ben Thomas Jr. and Franklin County Sheriff Deputy Jeff Sarver participated in the program, giving a thumbs up to correct responses from the students, or sharing some information.

McDade told the youngsters, “It’s up to you when it comes to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.”

The kids howled with laughter when he put ventriloquism into play with Cosmo, a big blue puppet. Cosmo joined in the humor to let them know “When you say no to drugs, you say yes to life.”

Dalton Noblit, 9, walked away from the event with a purpose. “We should not eat drugs or start smoking. Stuff like that you don’t do.”

Kayleigha Beckwith, 8, and Aidan Blankenship, 8, agreed that it was important to say no to drugs. They found both McDade and Cosmo very funny.

McDade travels with the Officer Phil program, giving safety programs to grades K-4, and drug messages to grades 3-5, as he did in Greencastle.

“It’s been good,” he said of his participation. “We’ve been in Franklin County for the past 15 years. I get the students’ attention with laughter, and then get serious with a major point.”

Greencastle police chief John Phillippy appreciated the program, which was an opportunity for the children to become acquainted with local officers.

Each student went home with a book addressing how to make good choices regarding drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Area merchants helped fund the assemblies.