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Middle-schoolers encouraged to stay away from drugs

By: Aurora Sain, Reporter
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In an effort to keep youth off the streets and away from drugs, the Placer County Sheriff’s Department takes a hands-on approach.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office brought the “Right Choice” drug-prevention program Friday to Olympus Junior High School.

“It’s good to show kids in a visual manner the dangers of alcohol and drug use,” said Dena Erwin, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office public-information officer.

The Right Choice is a prevention program that educates student participants on the full scope and consequences of illegal drug and prescription use. The program also offers the students skills to resist substance abuse.

The Right Choice is a realistic experience for middle-school students, who will witness one of their peers “arrested” for drug charges. The student to be arrested was preselected and given a role to play by school staff and program administrators. The selected student’s parents were also asked to be involved in the emergency room and funeral scenes. 

The students watched the scenario with real Sheriff’s deputies, Superior Court judges, district attorneys, probation officers, emergency medical personnel and the “defendant,” being played by one of their classmates. 

Eighth-grader Chloe Docto played the defendant and showed what it was like to go through the booking process.

“This is overwhelming,” Docto said.

In the remaining scenes, the “defendant” was prosecuted, sentenced and then attended a party where she died from a drug overdose. The students witnessed lifesaving efforts by paramedics and doctors.

The students also met officers from various departments including search and rescue, SWAT team and special investigations unit.

Students looked inside the SWAT vehicle and saw the bullet holes left by suspects.

“This vehicle has saved our lives many times,” said detective Tyler Neher.

One of the day’s highlights was meeting a working K9 dog and a bloodhound, Jasmine, used for search and rescue.

This is the fifth time that the program has been shared between Olympus Middle School, E.V.Cain Middle School and Loomis Grammar School.

“Not a lot of schools get to do this,” said eighth-grader Nathalia Licea. “It’s nice to know they are there.”