It was a spooky good time for Red Ribbon Week at Denham Springs Junior High School.
For the second year, the Denham Springs Police Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit Lesson was the highlight of the Halloween and Red Ribbon season, said Denham Springs Junior High teacher Charae McMorris.
Halloween took on a new meaning for gifted seventh and eighth grade students at Denham Springs Junior High last week, joining with officers of the Denham Springs Police Department and students throughout the nation to celebrate Red Ribbon Week for Drug Awareness. The campaign raises awareness for drug use and problems facing local communities related to drug use.
The Red Ribbon Campaign challenges and encourages parents, educators, business owners and community organizations to promote drug-free lifestyles.
Denham Springs Junior High gifted students had the opportunity of working with the Denham Springs Police Department in a mock investigation of a crime scene, as part of an interdisciplinary activity. Students learned skills from English language arts, math, science and social studies classes for a hands-on activity, working as police detectives and forensic analysts to solve a mystery in a mock drug-related murder/overdose crime scene, giving real-life meaning in education along with drug education, McMorris said.
Eighth grade gifted ELA student Shaderria Lewis said, “The experience was great for students that would like to be a forensic investigator. The officers explained to us how to do everything properly, demonstrating the precautions taken on a crime scene.”
The lesson integrated multiple course topics into one real-life, hands-on activity that gave students working together, an opportunity to try out career options outside the classroom.
This real-life educational activity was the brainchild of gifted teacher McMorris and school resource officers Susan Edwards and Daniel Bergeron.
“I like the hands-on approach and the drug lab activities,” said eighth grade gifted ELA student Carson Lusker-Whitten.
Rising to the challenge, Edwards, Bergeron and McMorris led the way and created a hands-on, crime scene reenactment mystery for Denham Springs Junior High Gifted students to solve. The presentation not only showed the possible dangers of drug use and the results for everyone involved, but it also provided a glimpse of the in-depth police work that goes into solving a crime.
Students looked at how a crime scene should be documented from the time an officer responds to when the scene is released by law enforcement. They explored controlling the scene; protecting against contamination; identifying methods of assessing and securing the scene; techniques for when an officer arrives; searching the scene; marking and collecting evidence; and recording all actions, procedures for processing a crime scene including sketching, measuring, photographing.
“The whole experience was very educational, and it really shed light on the drug topic that most schools seem to avoid,” said Reese Kennedy, an eighth grade gifted ELA student.
Resources officers concluded the activity with an in-depth conversation on the devastating truths of drug abuse and the effect — not just on the user but on friends and families. Officers also spoke on the epidemic of vaping and the lack of proper research on its safety.
“I want you guys to know that people that you hang out with don’t always have your best interest at heart. Make good decisions for yourself," Edwards said.
Research shows that children are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs when parents and other role models are clear and consistent in their opposition to substance use and abuse, McMorris said.