Last Thursday, on Halloween, Thompson Falls High School, in association with the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office and the Elks Lodge, held a special drug awareness event at the football field.
Just after noon the classes cycled out to participate in a unique drug and alcohol awareness exercise. As they came out into the unseasonably chilly air, draped in their outrageous Halloween costumes, the students were in for a treat.
Led by School Resource officer Bob Thornhill, several members of the community had organized a few activities to be done by the students, while wearing special “beer goggles.”
The first of these tasks were gauntlets of cones that the participating students would have to run through, while also having to interact with each other and catch thrown objects. The outcome was quite hysterical, as lanky teenagers costumed as Pikachu and Pirates tripped, rolled, swayed side to side and stumbled about the courses.
Another task asked of the entertained youth was to throw a basketball into a small hoop, an event held by the Elks Lodge, out of a drug prevention trailer they brought with them.
Again, while wearing the goggles, the students had to see how many baskets they could score, if any, and then had to walk several paces. This station was manned by Blaine Blackstone, who would giggle along with the students as the would either miss miserably or make impossible baskets under the influence of the goggles.
After this the students met up with Officer Bob Thornhill to put their driving skills to the test, piloting golf carts, temporarily donated by the Thompson Falls Golf Course. Each driver was given a pair of goggles, and paired with a partner for safety, then would try to navigate a short course of traffic cones.
This they would do while experiencing simulated inebriation from the goggles. There may have been a few cones knocked over and fences crashed into during the course of the event.
Once during each class, a group of carts was stopped by Bob and Deputy Lanzoni along with Max, a specially trained canine. The pair, Lanzoni and Max, work for the Sheriff’s Office as a drug sniffing K-9 unit.
Max is specially trained on at least four scents and can find even a small trace of drugs hidden far beyond what a human could scenes, even in several plastic bags. As the three stopped the carts, several students’ faces went pale as the drug sniffing dog was called into action to investigate.
Secretly the team had hidden a small amount of drugs on one of the carts under its seat, to simulate how easily Max could find the drugs. After the drive the students were made to take the walking portion of a driving test, walking The event was part of a nationwide awareness program called “Red Ribbon Week” where schools across the county held awareness programs to help prevent their students from going down the wrong road. The goggles, along with the money to purchase more pairs, were donated by several businesses in the community including First Security Bank, Whitefish Credit Union and Valley Bank.
Officer Thornhill was proud of how the day went and had this to say about it: “This is fun, but then they go back inside to learn how it can be devastating.”
He expressed the importance of the event to the students who participated, and many seemed to take the new experiences to heart. Thornhill also commented on the fact that sometimes a kid needs to have fun while learning for new and important information to take hold.