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CAPTAIN MID KNIGHT `DROPS IN' TO FIGHT DRUG ABUSE IN SCHOOLS

Captain Mid Knight says he doesn't get high on drugs anymore. Instead he dons a black suit, pink sunglasses and jumps out of airplanes.

The captain, who prefers to keep his real identity secret, has for the past year and a half been skydiving from an airplane into Davis and Weber County schoolyards proclaiming his homespun anti-drug philosophy.Last week at Sam Morgan Elementary in Kaysville almost 900 students took the Captain Mid Knight pledge.

"I, . . ., promise to always say no to drugs. I don't care who knows about it. I am rich and wonderful. I deserve the very best," the children said repeating the words of the lively captain.

The captain said he jumps out of planes to make sure he has the students' attention. He gets it, along with folk-hero status as children swarm to hug him and ask for an autograph. One small girl started crying when she didn't get a hug.

"When we first started doing this we realized that kids identify with something that is bigger than life. These kids don't want to know what your name is," the captain said, explaining the reason for his secrecy.

Captain Mid Knight said he is motivated to give the message to children so they don't have to go through the pain he did when he became addicted to drugs and alcohol.

"I describe myself as an alcoholic and drug addict. I have been substance free for about two and half years. It all started for me when I was these kids' age. I learned to drink from my father. Because of the renegade attitude I had, I was anxious to rebel at the youngest age. I was a natural candidate for the type of behavior," he said.

The fact that a recovering alcoholic and drug addict is getting such hero status among students does worry some school officials.

"I am concerned about giving children the idea that you can do drugs and turn around and become a hero," said Bob Thurgood, Davis School Board member.

Davis District officials contacted were not aware of the Captain Mid Knight program and said they want to examine the way such anti-drug programs are approved. Up until now, only principals have approved the programs. Perhaps, such programs should be cleared through area directors or the district's drug and alcohol coordinator, Thurgood said.

Captain Mid Knight was brought to Morgan Elementary by David White and Chris Hintze, two sixth-graders in the gifted program working on a civics project. The boys earned the $150 that Captain Mid Knight charged to drop into the school and spread his anti-drug message.

"It helped us to make choices," Chris said.

During a regular school visit, he rallies the children on the school lawn and then goes inside to talk candidly to the sixth-graders. At Morgan Elementary, he told sixth-graders to make a decision to remain drug-free and listen to the advice of teachers and parents.,

"Today you have an opportunity to do it different that I did," he said. "If you do drugs you have no choices. You have chosen to live a miserable existence until you drop. If you choose drugs it wipes out everything in your life."