A Black Hawk helicopter touched down at Lewis-Arriola Elementary School Tuesday afternoon as part of an annual anti-drug campaign.
Members of the Colorado National Guard – some of whom flew in via helicopter – gathered at the elementary school along U.S. Highway 491 to speak to students about the importance of making good choices and of the destructive nature of drugs and alcohol.
“I think the message is fantastic,” said Principal Jim Parr. The helicopter might be the feature that sticks in students’ minds, he added, but the experience nevertheless remained memorable for students year after year.
Red Ribbon Week is a national campaign started by the National Family Partnership organization in the 1980s, in response to the murder of Enrique Camarena, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent working in Mexico.
The Black Hawk helicopter landing is sponsored by the Colorado National Guard in recognition of Red Ribbon Week, said Jamie Haukeness, principal of Kemper Elementary School. The Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1 has participated in the campaign and helicopter landings for several years.
Red Ribbon Week is usually held in October, but the Cortez landings take place during spring.
The National Guard members flew in from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora.
Before landing, some of the military officers spoke to the students on the blacktop, pushing them to make good choices and “just say no” in order for them to be able to pursue their dreams.
“We want you all to grow up to be contributing adults,” said Master Sgt. Josh Imeraj.
Students were then able to check out the helicopter. As the campaign coincided with Teacher Appreciation Week, Lewis-Arriola educators were also offered a chance to sit in the cockpit.
The Black Hawk helicopter had been scheduled to land at Parque de Vida Tuesday morning as well, but maintenance issues forced the crew to cancel that event. Haukeness said they are hoping to reschedule for later this month.