I returned to Our Lady of Malibu for the first time this year, and it was great to see all the students and staff again. The campus always looks great, but the decorations for the Fall Family Festival were going up when I arrived and it gave the place a nice October feel.
Red Ribbon Wristbands
Most schools have Red Ribbon Week next week, but I delivered wristbands to OLM a few days early. Every student gets a wristband, but I started each class for 4th thru 8th grade by telling the story of Red Ribbon Week.
It all started back in the mid-80’s after DEA Agent Enrique Camarena was killed in the line of duty and his home town in southern California paid tribute to him by wearing red ribbons. The campaign gained momentum in California over the next few years and it eventually became part of the national drug awareness program. Schools across the country today still focus drug awareness campaigns around Red Ribbon Week, and it all goes back to the sacrifice of one cop trying to make his community better.
I also warned the kids to not think of drugs as good or bad. Drugs are just inanimate chemicals that affect our minds and bodies in a variety of ways. The good or bad comes from why a person chooses to use a drug. The laws and attitudes surrounding drugs are constantly changing, but every time a person uses a drug for any reason there is a risk involved. The only time a kid should be using a drug is with their parents knowledge and/or under the care of a doctor when necessary.
Its always fun to meet a group of students for the first time, and this years 4th graders were full of great questions for me. First, I handed out the materials that the kids will need for the year: a STAR folder, a name card, a pencil and an eraser.
After passing out the materials, I talked to the 4th Grade about my life before becoming a deputy, my path to joining the Sheriff’s Department and the different assignments that I’ve worked. I described my experience in the academy, my first assignment working in the jail (along with some pictures), my time as a bailiff in a courthouse and the time I spent out on patrol in Malibu, Agoura, Calabasas and the San Fernando Valley. I also talked about my education at UCLA and my involvement with the LA Grizzlies (the LASD Football Team).
The kids had a ton of questions, like:
- “Is that a real gun?”
- “Have you ever been in a car chase?”
- “Do you have a taser?”
- “Have you ever had an inmate escape?”
- “What’s the food like in jail?”
- “Do you like donuts?”
I tried to get through as many questions as possible. This Q&A gives the kids a chance to get to know me, and it gets the “cop” questions about out of the way so we can better focus on a topic the next time I visit.
My time in 5th grade had a similar structure. After I handed out the class materials, I talked to the 5th graders about what a police officer’s role is in the community and about the different types of peace officers working in California. Do you know the difference between the LAPD, LASD or CHP? Well, now your child should be able to answer that question. Like in the 4th grade, this topic allows us to get all the law enforcement questions out of the way so we can focus on the STAR lessons going forward.
6th Grade and 7th/8th Grade
After talking about Red Ribbon Week with the 6th Grade and the 7th/8th Grade classes, I had them complete the Time Capsule activity. Each student writes down a list of their favorite things on a worksheet I hand out, and then they fold and staple it shut until the end of the year. When the students open the capsules in the spring, they see how much their preferences change even over just a few months. At this point in their lives, everything is changing all the time for these kids; their bodies, minds and abilities are all still developing at a crazy rate. They might feel awkward or clumsy because of it, but the good news is that all of their peers feel the same way too (although they might not admit it to each other).
At recess, I had time to handcuff a bunch of students (at their request), and I also had a chance to catch up with my buddy Darcy (who told me that he went looking for me at Lost Hills Station over the summer no less than 5 times). I had a wonderful time at OLM, and I am looking forward to my next visit.