Nate Althouse is so bald his head shines.
But on Friday afternoon, the Penns Valley Area School District athletic director cracked a joke and told a group of Miles Township Elementary School students he was looking forward to “Hairs to a drug-free life” day — a play on words for next week’s crazy hair day.
The students laughed at the ironic statement, but agreed that they’re ready to make the most of the day, as well.
It will be part of a larger spirit week to celebrate the national Red Ribbon campaign that annually designates a week in October to promote drug-free awareness.
“We want to help motivate them to make positive choices,” teacher Jen Dawson said.
Dawson coordinated a schoolwide Red Ribbon week event with fellow teacher Michele Shawver to give the students age-appropriate lessons on leading a healthy life.
The theme this year is “ Love yourself, be drug free.”
“We weren’t sure they were going to absorb that theme, so we broadened it to have positive behavior in general,” Dawson said about the pre-K to fourth-grade students.
A Friday afternoon assembly showed students ways to lead a positive life and featured six Penns Valley Area High School student-athletes who each shared different ways to stay on the right track.
Shawver contacted the high school earlier in the year and was able to organize an assembly featuring the athletes, who worked with Althouse on topics of discussion that included friends and family, school and staying in shape.
“You always want to make good decisions, and the best way to do that is with the help of your parents and teachers,” senior Ben Alexander told the students. “They’re some of the people who love and care for you the most.”
Alexander is a football and basketball player for the Rams. He also runs track and is a former Miles Township Elementary School student.
Fourth-graders Kaylee Hart and Andrew Ruoff said that it was “cool” to get tips from older students, especially those who went to their school and that they hope to be positive role models themselves.
“I think it’s important to be a good role model so people can look up to you,” Kaylee, 9, said.
“We’re quiet and listen to the rules — something others can learn from,” Andrew, 9, added.
Dawson said the students are already on the right path. As part of the school’s mission, teachers aim to teach their students the “three R’s” — be ready, be respectful and be responsible, Dawson said.
Throughout the year, students who exemplify positive behavior are given incentives, Dawson said. They can earn points and tickets for doing good deeds that can then be handed in for rewards or prizes.
“We want to help them learn and grow that way,” Dawson said.