It’s not every day a mayor runs from shards of wood broken by a tae kwon do black belt, but at T.W. Ogg Elementary School, it’s part of a tradition.

Clute Mayor Calvin Shiflet and Master Lee’s USK TaeKwonDo made up a small number of the special guests at Ogg’s Red Ribbon Week drug-free rally in the school’s gym Friday. The annual parade was canceled because of the cold, wet weather, but the makeshift indoor rally showed students that being drug-free is fun, Principal Kristi Traylor said.

“You don’t need drugs to have fun,” she said.

The rally featured Clute Intermediate School’s dancers and cheerleaders and Brazoswood’s drumline. This has been a tradition as long as Clute Intermediate Counselor Darla Michaelidis, who has been at the school for 13 years, can remember.

The rally builds a connection between the younger and older students so Ogg students can see what the future looks like for them, Michaelidis said.

The examples of older students involved in activities sets goals for the younger students, Michaelidis said.

“In order to really be successful, you have to be drug-free,” she said.

The Red Ribbon Week events highlight the importance of staying drug-free, she said. So many of the schools’ families face adversity and can use the extra support through these lessons, Michaelidis said.

The kids dress up all week to fit different themes, including wearing red on Friday to be “red-y to be drug-free,” Traylor said. A group of teachers and the parent teacher organization plan the week, and companies sponsor the parade and T-shirts, she said.

Even though they didn’t get to ride in Gulf Coast Ford’s vehicles for the parade, it’s the thought that counts, Traylor said.

“It really brings our community together,” she said.

Ogg Counselor Angela Wright said it’s important to teach young kids what drugs are and how to say no to them. When they get older, it can be more difficult to refuse, so they build their confidence to say no at an early age, she said.

They especially focus on how drugs can impact the children’s futures, Traylor said. For example, a student who wants to be a pro athlete should know that they can’t do drugs to get there, she said.

“Even in kindergarten, they have dreams and goals,” Traylor said.

Maddy McCarty is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0151.

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