Paying it forward: Roswell K-9 unit at Red Ribbon Week

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ROSWELL, Ga. – Students at Holcomb Bridge Middle School participated in the annual Red Ribbon Week – a program started in 1985 as a campaign to educate children about the negative effects of drugs and alcohol – but this year, they were inspired by Roswell Police Officer Robert Colombo and his K-9 partner Bart.

The weeklong program commenced on Oct. 11 with students signing a drug-free pledge posted on their teacher’s door, followed by daily fun and interactive discussions in small groups and finally, two special guest speakers at the end of the week. Dr. Lenore Doster, from the Summit Counseling Center, led an interactive discussion with the sixth- and eighth-graders about developing a “winning attitude,” while Colombo shared the training he and Bart receive, how Bart detects drugs and why the department has a K-9 unit.

Colombo also shared a story about a young man he knew who went to Holcomb Bridge Middle School 26 years ago. The young man sat in the same bleachers during Red Ribbon Week as a student and listened to a K-9 police officer speak about his dog and their training. He decided that very day to set his goals high and to become a K-9 officer himself. When it was revealed that Colombo was that young man, the students cheered and clapped.

“While Red Ribbon Week begins in elementary school, the middle school years are key to engaging students in ways they may not have expected,” said Principal Joy Schroerlucke. “Dr. Doster and Officer Colombo did a fantastic job engaging our students — and Bart played his role, too.”