Three Utah schools were given top honors by President Bush Friday for being winners of the 1990-91 Drug-Free School Recognition Program.
Highland High School, Pleasant Grove High School and Rose Park Elementary School were three of the 50 public and six private schools nationwide that won the honor.Representatives from each Utah school flew to Washington to receive the award and attend a ceremony where they were addressed by Bush.
"We can't hope to give any child a sound education and a decent shot at the future if drug users and drug dealers roam the halls of our schools," Bush told the teacher and student representatives gathered in the Rose Garden of the White House.
"Each of the schools here today is helping to ensure drug use will continue to decrease," he said.
He told the audience that it is easier to build a child than to repair an adult, and he added, "In a society where children get mixed messages about drug use, you're sending a clear signal. You're winning the battle . . .. You draw the line against drugs."
The Drug-Free School Recognition Program was created four years ago as part of Bush's America 2000 strategy. This year 161 schools were nominated, and Utah managed to come away with three of the awards after extensive review of each of the schools by the U.S. Department of Education.
"Our winning the award this year will hopefully help encourage other schools in the area,"said Bruce Bushnell, counselor from Pleasant Grove High School. "I think they're starting to realize this (the president's program) is a great program."
Also representing Pleasant Grove was Cydni Rogers, 17, who graduated from high school this year. She said she felt programs such as Pleasant Grove's "Esteem Team," created to improve students' self-image, have been effective. "I think the programs have especially helped people on the border line who say, `Do I fit into anything?' " Rogers said.
Even though she feels Bush's goal to have every school in America completely drug-free by the year 2000 is unrealistic, she said it's a good goal to strive for.
Drug-free programs aren't limited to the high schools. Eighteen of the schools honored were elementary schools.
Michelle Bachman, a teacher at Rose Park Elementary, said that school's drug-free programs are designed to catch students early, before they are confronted with drugs. "It's more than just saying no to drugs, it's making wise choices whatever you do," Bachman said.
She said the president's address was great for the school because it is good for students to get exposure for being part of something positive, instead of something negative.
With Bachman was fifth-grader Robert Norgaard, who was part of the Peer Leadership Team this year at Rose Park. He said even though no one has ever offered him drugs before, he knows he'll say no if they ever do. "You don't want to get screwed up when you're older and you need skills you can't have when you're doing drugs," he said.