It was all part of the U.S. Attorney’s tour of area schools, spreading the word about the dangers of drugs.
All the students at Madison School were invited on the walk, but the fifth graders got a special talk first.
It may seem like a young audience to target, but officials say it’s actually the perfect age.
“You know, at that age, when I ask who wants to be strong and healthy and smart, they all raise their hands,” said Bill Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia.
“I mean, these kids are young,” said Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott. “It’s a shame we have to come and talk to kids at this age, but I guess we have to start early. You can’t wait until they’re in high school or college.”
“I guess it doesn’t surprise me anymore, but they know a lot already,” said Ihlenfeld. “And they’ve seen a lot already.”
“You can get very addicted to drugs and it’s very deadly,” said Brittany Clay, fifth grader. “And he was trying to teach us not to do it, like when we get in our 20s.”
“Well I learned about not taking drugs or nicotine because it’s very bad for you,” said fifth grader Marina Bologna.
Combining the message with fresh air and exercise appeared to be far more effective than a lecture in a classroom.
“Get them outside so they see some signs, so they’re walking around with adults,” said Mayor Glenn Elliott. “They see us wearing suits. They probably think we know what we’re talking about.”
It’s all part of getting the message about drugs out in the daylight.
These days, some obituaries are surprisingly forthright, saying the person lost his or her battle with addiction.
“I think we’re seeing more and more people being open and honest about their own personal struggle or the struggles of someone else in their life, and instead of running from it, they’re talking about it,” said Ihlenfeld.
In the end, the students were clearly grateful, shouting their thank yous to the mayor, police chief and U.S. Attorney as they completed their walk.