Combining motivational guest speakers with messages of healthy living, schools across the Killeen Independent School District are reminding students this week about how to stay safe.
Every school chooses Safety Week activities to reinforce lessons from preventing fires to avoiding strangers, proper use of 911, refraining from texting and driving, and what not to bring to school.
The school district has conducted the week of safety activities for more than 20 years.
At Bellaire, Saegert and Hay Branch elementary schools Monday dog handlers from Interquest Detection Canines demonstrated to students their highly skilled contraband-sniffing dogs.
James Combs and his Labrador Retriever Vegas showed off for two large groups of students at Bellaire. As the company’s name suggests, Combs told students, he and his animal colleague work to find things.
In an intensive two-month period of hide-and-seek, Combs said he trained his canine partner to alert to the smell of a wide variety of illegal and prescription drugs, alcohol and fireworks and gunpowder.
Standing on stage with his dog, three chairs and numerous backpacks, Combs directed the animal to go to work, and Vegas alerted on several backpacks, each containing a different dangerous substance.
The dog handler urged students to never bring such items to school and if they find them, to get away and to tell a trusted adult.
Shalikina Weeden, assistant principal at Bellaire, said the week of messages and activities at school is a chance to think beyond issues of behavior and to consider protecting the whole child.
Through the week, she said, students would hear messages warning against drug use, staying away from strangers, as well as fire and other environmental safety at school and at home.
Another message, from a group called the Harlem Ambassadors, urged students at East Ward and Fowler elementary schools to work hard in school and to listen to people like teachers who know the value of education.
The group of six recent college graduates showed off basketball skills and told personal stories of overcoming troubled past events to find success.
Fowler counselor Christy Fairey said she brought the Ambassadors to the school to expose students to young role models who have overcome challenges.
The school counselor said she wanted to use safety week to remind students to stay focused on doing their best in school and making good choices to stay healthy and safe.
“I want to build them up and help them to make good choices,” she said. She said through the week she would go class to class to give guided lessons about strategies to stay safe.
Some schools use dress-up days to highlight different aspects of safety, while some conduct poster contests or essay contests. Shoemaker High School has a week of activities planned with safe driving, dangers of online dating and bullying among the topics.
Family safety fair
The public is invited to a family safety fair at Trimmier Elementary School from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday.
The school will host police and firefighters to teach about bicycle hand signals and fire safety and will have games for children.