VENTURA : School Honored for Anti-Drug Program

Saticoy School in Ventura is one of 63 elementary schools nationwide that has been honored for its efforts to steer children away from alcohol and drugs.

Principal Nancy Bradford and two other staff members will travel to Washington early next month to receive the award at a White House Rose Garden ceremony.

"I get to shake (President) Bill Clinton's hand," Bradford said.

A total of 109 schools nationwide, including 21 high schools and 23 junior high schools, will receive the honor.

Although the award officially recognizes Saticoy as one of the nation's best "Drug-Free Schools," Saticoy's programs do more than just try to keep drugs and alcohol off campus.

Saticoy has an array of support groups, counseling programs and classroom activities that reach out not only to its kindergarten through fifth-grade students but also to their families.

Children who are withdrawn or shy participate in a program designed to boost their self-confidence.

Students who have a sibling or parent with a drug or drinking problem may join support groups to help them cope with the addiction.

And pupils who have lost a family member can get grief counseling.

The idea, Bradford said, is to help children who are deemed at risk of resorting to drugs or alcohol later in life.

"These are kids that could be substance abusers if they didn't have help with their emotional problems," she said.

"We know that intervention at an early age will prevent whatever problem it might be, whether it be gangs or drugs or alcohol."

The school also reaches out to families, offering classes that teach parenting skills and support groups on issues such as helping parents recognize whether their children are affiliated with gangs.

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