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Pupils wage war on drugs

The eighth-graders at Powell Middle School have a message for you: "If you smoke pot, you're not really smart; so stay drug-free, just like me." On Monday, the youths plan to rap those words to their peers at Powell. It's their way of marking Red Ribbon Week, a nationwide, eight-day push for substance-abuse prevention that began Saturday.

The pupils and teachers at Powell are joining other youths, teachers, administrators, parents and civic leaders in focusing the attention of Hernando County residents on drug abuse _ what it is, how to stop it and how to keep it from starting.

Those who do not get a chance to hear the message will see it. Hernando campuses will be decorated with red ribbons. Posters will urge youngsters to "Just Say No" to drugs.

In many district schools, the youths will sign "Just Say No" pledge cards.

At Westside Elementary School, fourth- and fifth-graders will sign "contracts of life," statements asserting their principles, determination, dignity and promises to refuse involvement in detrimental behavior.

The Hernando school district's "Just Say No" mascot, Eugene the Gorilla, will visit elementary schools throughout the week. On Wednesday, many schools will distribute red ribbons for students and faculty members to wear. At J.D. Floyd Elementary School, children and faculty members will be urged to wear red clothes Wednesday.

The district's "Just Say No" cheerleaders will lead a pep rally at Deltona Elementary.

And Mark Rothstein, a jump-rope champion, will urge middle school pupils to keep themselves drug-free and physically fit.

The point of all the activity is to involve the community in drug prevention, said Mary Jane Harrelson, president of Hernando Informed Parents for Drug Free Youth.

Powell pupils put the message to music in their Red Ribbon Rap:

Now listen up, 'cause it's a fact, there's a harmful drug on the streets, called crack. If you say no, you're the cool one, not like those losers, who have no fun.