Lupton Jr. High School incorporated an art project into its Red Ribbon Week activities.
Kindergarten through eighth-grade students decorated rocks Tuesday morning that will be placed in a rock garden outside the school.
The students were inspired by a "Be Unique, Be Drug-Free" phrase and used markers to color their rocks in a design that represented who they are. Many signed their names on the rocks and drew various images.
Home Depot donated rocks for the project, while parents and Edgil Grove Baptist Church provided markers to the school. The Walker County Arts Alliance was also a partner in the project.
Students designed their rocks with their mentor group. All students in the school are assigned to mentor groups of around 10 students that are led by a school employee.
"They're getting to do some art, which they don't get to do a lot of in the classroom," counselor Amanda Shubert said. "They're also getting to know their mentors. We're hoping to better the relationship."
Shubert said the mentor groups are meant to pair students with others outside of their normal peer group, and it also serves for children to have an adult figure to confide in that is not one of their regular teachers.
When Shubert met with her group on Tuesday, all of the children were encouraged to explain their rocks designs, and Shubert also told them to support each other, even if it's a simple hello in the hallway between classes.
"We're strengthening the bond throughout the school, and I'm hoping it will increase their spirit as well," Shubert said.
The school's art project was incorporated into Red Ribbon Week observance.
Dress up days have been encouraged at the school for Red Ribbon Week, with a different theme for each day. Students wore pajamas on Monday as part of the "Follow Your Dreams, Don't Do Drugs" theme. Tuesday's slogan was "My Future is Bright, I'm Drug-Free," and students dressed in attire inspired by their career goals.
Today's theme focuses on good character, giving students an opportunity to dress as their favorite character. When students return to school on Friday after Thursday's parent visitation day, they will be wearing costumes for the "Let's Scare Away Drugs" theme.
Josh Harkness, Lupton's school resource officer, has also been talking to students about drug prevention this week.
Lupton Principal Corey Shubert said he hopes art activities like the one on Tuesday can be incorporated more frequently since the school is working toward STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) certification.
The school recently received funding from Rep. Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley, and Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, which totaled $3,000. School leaders hope to use the money for an art specific classroom.
"It will be extremely beneficial for us trying to become STEM or STEAM certified, and that's one of the things that we really lack is anything revolving around arts," Corey Shubert said.
Amanda Shubert said adding music education at Lupton is a long-term goal as well.
"We're just trying to get some more art in their school any way we can," she said.