LA JARA, Colo. -- A classroom at La Jara Elementary School comes alive with chants and applause as a group of Centauri High School students lead a rap song they wrote about addiction.
“Lions and tigers and bears oh my, drinking and smoking and drugs goodbye," they chanted.
It is a special moment as school district administrators and teachers looked on with excitement, hope and pride.
The majestic mountains that surround Colorado's San Luis Valley symbolize the strength of those living in it's beautiful communities.
They are fighting for the survival of their young, refusing to let the nationwide opioid epidemic dictate how their story will end.
The North Conejos School District is ground zero of this strategic battle, where students from Centauri High School are working with the district superintendent to empower kids in kindergarten and elementary school, and shield them from the dangers of addiction.
Superintendent Curt Wilson said peer-to-peer outreach is an excellent way to get through to children.
Utilizing the influence of those they look up to such as high school athletes is even better.
“It is good to hear from our own students that not everybody's doing (drugs) and there are people who are staying clean and staying away from that stuff," Wilson said.
Wilson goes on to explain the plan is based on “a proactive approach to stop the problem before it begins.”
The students put on a presentation that is creative, engaging, unique, clever and extremely well-produced.
A Q-and-A session checks the young audience’s knowledge of over-the-counter drugs found around the house such as cough syrup.
The Anderson twins put on a skit featuring an impression of a young man suffering from symptoms of addiction.
Other students point out how staying on the right track means being able to compete in sports and enjoy “the good life”.
Centauri student Tona Lavadour said they want the children to understand that “drugs physically mess with your body and it can take you down in ways you don't ever want to see.”
The school staff and Centauri students show a clear and unwavering commitment to their community.
“Just look at the fire in their eyes, they can be anything they want to be," La Jara principal Ricky Salazar said.
The group chants more of the Centauri rap.
“Don't be a fool and don't do crack, talk to a teacher and stay on track,” the chanted.
"As long as we have the kindergartners and they're ready to go and they want to learn and become something great, there's always hope," Salazar said.
Parents should note the signs of addiction, which can include isolation, mood swings and failing grades.
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