St. Theresa’s students told to avoid drugs

KEKAHA — United States Attorney Edward H. Kubo Jr.’s message was very relevant to students at St. Theresa’s School Thursday.

Sister Elizabeth Ann, school principal, explained that recently, a student had found a package containing a suspicious substance on the sidewalk.

That student brought the package to school, and school officials turned it over to authorities. Following tests by the authorities, it was discovered that the substance in the package was crystal methamphetamine, or ice.

The real-life situation brought Kubo’s message to earth as he relayed that thought through his reading of “The Right Decision,” a saga of young boys who stumble across a package containing a gun and several packets of an unknown substance.

Resisting the temptation to play with the gun, the youngsters notify their parents and authorities.

“You need to exercise the right decision,” Kubo told the students in the third through fifth grades during his presentation. “The state needs you to be clean and safe.”

In his earlier presentation to students in the sixth through eighth grades, Kubo tasked the students with being the eyes and ears of those in the community, notifying adults when they see something that could indicate illegal (drug) activity.

To reinforce his points, Kubo relied on Powerpoint presentations that graphically showed before-and-after photos of individuals who were on drugs, the graphic images extracting audible, emotional responses from the students as images flashed across the screen.

“The trick is to find the right messages for the right age group,” Kubo said following his presentations.

“I am determined to help our children grow up with a positive outlook on life, and with a belief that they can achieve whatever goals they set,” he said.

“In the process, they will strive to do what is right, steering clear from the dangers of drugs, and becoming Hawai’i’s future leaders and role models themselves,” said Kubo.

Both presentations were cut short due to time constraints, as students posed question after question to Kubo. And, in the third-to-fifth-grade classroom, students flocked to Kubo for his autograph after recognizing him from television newscasts.

For the older students, Kubo added presentations about two drugs that they would be contending with in their life: Special “K,” and ghb, or the “date-rape-drug.”

Both presentations were enhanced by graphic video clips, in the case of the ghb presentation, the victim, a 15-year-old boy, being killed by an overdose after keeping his drug usage a secret from his parents.

Kubo’s presentations were reinforced by short presentations by Craig De Costa, the county’s prosecuting attorney and an alumni of St. Theresa’s, and Roy Nishida, the county’s anti-drug coordinator.

Nishida urged the students to take advantage of the recent opening of the Teen Edge center in the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, and announced that, starting next month, there will be Movies in the Park programs.

One of the school’s fourth-grade teachers noted that the students were ready for this presentation, not only because of the recent ice discovery, but because they had just been through one of the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) programs conducted by officers of the Kaua’i Police Department.

KPD officer Hank Barriga joined members of Kubo’s party for lunch with the St. Theresa’s School students.

Later, Kubo had what he called a spirited, educational dialogue with principals and teachers of the state Department of Education West Complex (Kalaheo to Kekaha schools).

He also spent about an hour in the offices of The Garden Island newspaper, updating Editor Adam Harju and others on the latest happenings in gang activity, the war on drugs, and some other specific Kaua’i criminal cases.

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