Last Wednesday, more than 800 fifth-grade students in Amphitheater School District and other Oro Valley schools learned of the dangers of drugs at the second annual Drug Awareness Day.

The event, put on by the Oro Valley Optimist Club, in conjunction with the Oro Valley Police Department and Amphitheater School District, was held at Riverfront Park.

It featured exhibits, a Border Patrol Blackhawk helicopter that flew in McGruff the Crime Dog and Star Wars characters, a K-9 demonstration, and a ladder truck from Golder Ranch Fire District.

Fifth-grade students are about to move into the middle school environment, and "studies have shown that fifth grade is the time to start the education process" about drug abuse, the Optimists said in a release.

Students heard from a young woman who lost her brother to drug abuse, and parents listened to a representative of the Arizona Youth Alliance. There were 60 parents on hand, a large increase from a year ago, according to Don Cox of the Optimist Club.

Mayor Paul Loomis addressed the gathering. Local Fry's stores provided lunch for all parents and volunteers, Cox said. Oro Valley Parks and Recreation gave its support, he added.

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