HCDE’s Special Schools Promote Drug Awareness During Red Ribbon Week

Fortis Academy Counselor Nakia Lee Francis smiles as student Lesly Lozzano proudly shows off her “Say No To Drugs” painting.

Students at Harris County Department of Education’s four special schools reaffirmed their pledge to promote a drug-free and healthy lifestyle in honor of Red Ribbon Week. The annual event, observed Oct. 23-31, is the nation’s oldest and largest drug awareness program.

Throughout the week, faculty and staff at all HCDE campuses encouraged students to get involved in drug prevention activities, which included themed dress-down days, such as “Team Up Against Drugs” and “Have the Power to Stay Drug-Free.” Counselors also facilitated discussions about the potential social, educational, and physical challenges of substance abuse.

Highpoint School embraced this year’s national theme, “Be Kind to Your Mind. Live Drug-Free,” with a daily lunch speaker series. Each speaker provided information on coping skills and highlighted school resources to help students abstain from harmful substances. On Tuesday, Oct. 24, Educational Aide Jasmyn Jackson explained to students how self-reflection, physical exercise, and meditation can help them uphold a healthy lifestyle.

“Many of our students face challenges outside of school and don’t have the skills to properly articulate their feelings or know how to deal with them. Unfortunately, they often turn to drugs,” said Highpoint Principal Courtney Waters. “Our goal is to provide alternative solutions that help our students recognize and manage those emotions, and prioritizing mental health is the first step to building those healthy habits.”

In north Harris County, Fortis Academy students gathered on the school’s outdoor patio for a drug-prevention rally where they embraced their artistic abilities. Faculty members led students in a painting activity that encouraged learners to make positive choices throughout their lives and seek assistance from trusted counselors when facing the temptation of alcohol or substance abuse.

To learn more about HCDE’s Special Schools, visit hcde-texas.org/special-schools.

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