Special mission

ThunderRidge High School students check out a Blackhawk helicopter that landed on the soccer field May 16. The Air National Guard and Drug Enforcement Administration delivered a message to the teens about the dangers of alcohol and drug use during summer months. Photo by Randy Barber | Douglas County School District
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The sound of chopper blades beating against the air greeted students at ThunderRidge High School in Highlands Ranch May 16 as a Blackhawk helicopter set down on the school’s soccer field.

The landing was part of a planned visit by the Colorado National Guard in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). With only days left in the school year, the soldiers and DEA agents wanted to remind students about the dangers of illegal drugs.

The DEA agents and school administrators spoke to nearly 500 freshman and sophomore students who gathered to watch the helicopter land. Administrators say the message was to encourage students to avoid poor decision making during summer break.

The DEA and National Guard team up throughout the year to promote the Red Ribbon program, which aims at educating students about the dangers of illegal drugs and offers them an opportunity to pledge their support to a drug and alcohol-free future.

The DEA approached ThunderRidge because of a link through one of the school’s special education teachers, Patty Kurz, who is also a member of the Air Force National Guard.

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