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Clowns observe drug free lifestyle
October 31, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Kay Grote/Gering Citizen - Gering eighth grader Rachel Garland tries to make a Cedar Canyon first grade student smile during a game of “If You Love Me, Honey, Smile” while fellow CLOWN Quintien Onstott waits his turn in the background. The Gering Jr. High CLOWN (Children Learning Other Ways Naturally) troupe visited each Gering elementary school Tuesday, sharing the message of living healthy and fun lives without alcohol or drugs.

Gering Junior High eighth graders weren’t just clowning around Tuesday – they were talking about how it’s important for kids to stay away from drugs.

The Clowns group visited Gering elementary schools during Red Ribbon Week, observed nationally for communities and individuals to take a stand for the hopes and dreams of children by committing to live drug free.

More importantly, the event commemorates the memory of Enrique Camarana, a Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent who was killed by drug traffickers in 1985.

At Gering, students in the Clowns group are first recommended by their teachers, based on leadership qualities and grades. Members then sign a pledge to live above the influence of drugs and alcohol.

“We want to tell the little kids to be safe and not do drugs or be around alcohol,” said Clown Quintien Onstott.

In fact, many of the students became interested in the Clown program from the group visiting them when they were in elementary school.

Fellow eighth grader Brittney Spreier said she was also influenced by her sister, who encouraged her to get involved. “I didn’t like the way drugs were used, so I wanted to help children understand the dangers.”

On Monday, the Clowns were in their own junior high, making short presentations during first period and challenging their classmates to sign the drug free pledge. Students who signed were given a glow-in-the-dark bracelet.

That Monday, junior high students wore camouflage, a reminder to “Fight back against drugs.” Tuesday was “Be vested against drugs” day with everyone wearing vests. On Wednesday, it was sweats attire for “Living drug free is no sweat.” The obvious connection for Halloween is ‘Scare away drugs” with students wearing Halloween costumes.

The week concludes Friday with students wearing Bulldog attire to “Team up against drugs and alcohol.” The day will include a walk through downtown. Afterwards, Officer Burns from the WING Drug Task Force will be back at the school to make a presentation on the dangers of drugs.

Later in the year, the Clowns will be Christmas caroling and doing some kind of project with their Adopt-a-School partner.

Teacher Crystal Palser, sponsor for the Clowns group, said the program challenges the kids to do something important, beyond just attending school and getting good grades.

“The Clowns group provides an opportunity for kids that are always doing the right thing to get involved,” she said. “This has been a busy week, but the kids are good about delegating things and taking ownership. They’ve been a lot of fun to work with.”
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