Students at Horizon Community Learning Center (HCLC) gathered Wednesday and Thursday morning to watch videos from older peers on how to stay drug free with “natural highs.”

In honor of Red Ribbon Week, a national drug-prevention campaign, students in fifth and sixth grades at HCLC made video testimonies on how they use their favorite hobbies and interests as ways to stay away from drugs or alcohol.

“We take time and explore our natural highs to prevent us from seeking out the highs of drugs,” said Burke Wood, 11. “My natural high is (playing) trombone.”

Teacher Kelly Kowalczyk assigned Burke’s fifth-grade class the video projects last year, and got the chance to present them to the school.

Taking their cue from the “Natural High” video series featuring celebrity athletes, the students shot footage of themselves playing baseball, acting, playing trombone and performing gymnastics, depending on their hobby.

Red posters and paper cutouts of ribbons were hung all around the school’s courtyard for the week. Students also dressed in red T-shirts Friday and signed a pledge to be drug free.

“Some kids might experience it at home and think it’s cool or OK, but at school we teach them it’s not,” added Kendra Fuller, 11.

Though their presentations were made to dozens of kindergarten, first and second grades, Wood and Fuller both felt that the kids weren’t too young to hear about making wise decisions.

“Drugs are just going to come at you straight away, and you need to be prepared to say no,” Burke said.

Horizon Community Learning Center is located at 16233 S. 48th St. The Ahwatukee school serves elementary, middle and high school students.

To learn more about Red Ribbon Week, visit


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