Phil Swing students hold key to being drug free



Students and faculty of Phil Swing Elementary School spell out #psFUTURE for the REACH Air Medical flyover Wednesday during Red Ribbon Week. Lloyd Miller photo.

BRAWLEY – A sea of red filled the playground of Phil Swing Elementary School Wednesday morning as the REACH Air Medical helicopter made a flyover for Red Ribbon Week, a fun-filled time intended to influence youth to remain drug-free.

Every student, teacher, and staff member stood their ground on the playground forming the shape of a key along with spelling out “#PS Future” to support this year’s National Red Ribbon Week theme of “Your Future is Key, Be Drug Free.”

This is the fourth year the school has done the flyover in partnership with REACH, who provides support of of local communities and schools. REACH provided the air trip to photograph the kids in formation. The Brawley Fire Department also made an appearance.

REACH crew provided the air transport for the flyover to Phil Swing Elementary School and Barbara Worth Junior High School. Luis Sanchez (left), flight paramedic and Cason Heard, pilot. Lloyd Miller photo.

“It was really cool how it was a picture of the whole school being drug free,” said third grader Kiana Adame.

Red Ribbon Week was founded in 1985 in honor of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, an undercover United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent who was kidnapped by drug cartels in Mexico, tortured, and killed because he tried to stop their flow of drugs. Local residents began wearing red ribbons to honor Camarena as a symbol to stand against drugs. “Red Ribbon Week” eventually spread throughout California and the rest of the United States.

“It’s important to not use drugs because it’s bad,” said fourth grader Miguel Velasquez about being drug free.

“It was pretty cool, we never did this at Witter,” said sixth grader Daniel Zamora. “I feel really great.”

Phil Swing Principal Liz Casey stated that it is moments like this one that stay in a child’s memories, and they can learn from them.

“(The students) need to know that the future for them is to stay drug-free, because they need to be successful in life and have a clear mind,” said Casey.

The flyover has been a tradition at Phil Swing since the 1990s when fourth grade teacher Sharon LaChat worked with the California Highway Patrol to organize a flyover in their helicopter for Red Ribbon Week while students spelled out a key and #ps, FUTURE. Although the tradition was discontinued for a few years, it was picked up again in 2014 when then Principal Ceci Dial partnered with REACH and it has continued ever since.

REACH also flew over Barbara Worth Junior High. The Kids spelled out BWJH.

Barbara Worth Junior High School spelled out the initials of their school for the REACH flyover. Lloyd Miller photo.