Frequently I am invited into the Johnston schools to participate in some special event. One of my favorite events is the graduation ceremonies for fifth graders that have just completed the Code 411 program. The program teaches fifth graders about the health and legal consequences of drug use and the importance of making good decisions. Johnston police officer, Rich Kirkeby, teaches the program in his role as Johnston School Resource Officer.
The Code 411 program has been well received. Teachers and parents believe it has been effective in teaching fifth graders some early lessons about the dangers of drug use. The students have fun competing for awards for best-written essay and the t-shirt design for their graduation ceremony.
What has been missing until now is reinforcement of the lessons learned by the students as they move on to higher grades. And, as we all know, the temptation for at-risk behavior only increases for students in the middle and high school years.
Now as a result of the hard work of Police Chief Bill Vaughn and the generosity of more than a dozen local donors funding is available to hire another School Resource Officer and to expand the Code 411 program to the seventh and ninth grades. The curriculum for the higher grades is still being developed but is likely to involve professionals, like the county medical examiner and state court judges, as guest speakers.
This effort to expand the Code 411 program is a great example of how our city, schools and businesses – the entire Johnston community – comes together to address an issue of importance to all of us.
A special thanks goes out to the following individuals and organizations for their contributions that made expansion of the Code 411 program possible: Polk County Board of Supervisors, DuPont Pioneer, John Deere Financial, Rasmussen Group, Johnston Hy-Vee, Wells Fargo, ITS Shazam Network, Brian and Kathy Meng, Johnston Lion’s Club, Foth Engineering, Laden & Pearson, P.C., CSB Insurance Group, Grinnel State Bank, Community State Bank, and Dr. Valerie Skow. We could not have done it without you!