On Wednesday, March 29, the Perry Middle School held a Drug Awareness assembly featuring guest Public Speaker Ray Lozano. Jefferson’s Elks Lodge member, Dianne Gibson, introduced Lozano, an Elks Lodge member based out in California.

The drug presentation was brought into the middle school by Perry’s Elks Lodge.

PCSD Superintendent Lynn Ubben says committees are made throughout the school to determine assembly guests.

”Typically there’s a counseling team that it typically goes through and then the building administrations,” Ubben said. “There are three at the high school and two at the middle school.”

Perry’s Elks Lodge qualified for grants that allowed the public speaker to be free to the schools.

“We try to help out,” Chad Morman, Exalted Ruler of Perry’s Elks Lodge.

Lozano has been involved in public speaking since 1990 and travels throughout the country for alcohol and drug awareness presentations.

“You saw about 10% of what I do,” Lozano said.

Lozano speaks to all ages, ranging from middle school to high school.

Each assembly is booked nine months out in advance, Lozano said.

Throughout the assembly, Lozano spoke to middle school students in the High School Auditorium about the dangers of becoming involved in drug or alcohol-related abuse at a young age.

Students roared with laughter at recalled stories of Lozano’s youth and grew quiet when Lozano explained his family’s history of drug and alcohol abuse.

Lozano tied all of the stories and lessons back into a common theme: self-care and love.

“That’s why the Elks brought me out here today, that’s why your Principal and teachers want me to talk to you today,” Lozano said to the crowd. “There’s something amazing inside of you guys that you got to take care of and nurture; you have no idea what it is, but it’s inside you right now.”

During one segment of the assembly, Lozano listed off scenarios asking students if they knew someone who became involved in a substance and later changed from the experience.

“Drugs and alcohol take that amazing way from you all the time, it does,” Lozano told the crowd. “I’ve seen it happen time and time again.”

Lozano informed students about how alcohol affects the body.

A female and male volunteer from the crowd were brought on stage to try out visual impairment goggles. Volunteers were asked by Lozano to walk on a line of blue tape once and then complete the same task while wearing the accessory. Students erupted in laughter as both volunteers stumbled across the stage and missed Lozano’s hand for a high-five afterwards.

At the end of the assembly, Lozano asked students why they want to be drug-free. Audience participation was welcomed as students yelled out a series of answers: “I want to play in the NBA,” “I want to be a good Mom,” “I want to go to college.”

At the end of the event, Perry’s Elk Lodge members passed out pamphlets to the middle school audience about being drug-free.