From posters to proclamations and carnivals to clothing, a variety of activities will be used to drive home the message of avoiding alcohol and drug abuse to local students during Red Ribbon Week.
The annual program, started and sponsored by the anti-drug National Family Partnership and organized locally by the Right Path for Washington County, unofficially kicked off Friday as members of Marietta High School's Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapter posted facts about drug and alcohol abuse on the windows of their school.
"When students come back to school on Monday, it'll be first and foremost on their minds," said Cathy Harper, coordinator of the Right Path, which aims to provide healthy alternatives to drug and alcohol abuse while engaging children in their community.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Marietta High School juniors Leonard Carpenter, left, Jennifer Hefter, center, and Maggie Chwalek, paint anti-drug slogans and drug awareness facts on the windows lining the Marietta High School hallways. Next week is Red Ribbon Week which encourages kids to disavow drug and alcohol use.
The SADD chapter has planned several anti-drug activities for lunch next week. The Marietta Middle School counterparts will also have a variety of activities in conjunction with Marietta College students helping out as part of the college's annual observance of Make a Difference Day.
"It's really a good way for them to work with middle school students, but they're also positive role models," said Harper, noting the college students will share with the middle schoolers why they choose not to use drugs.
Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews will read a Red Ribbon Week proclamation at the middle school one day, as Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz plans to do at Belpre Elementary School.
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Red Ribbon Week
Local school activities include:
Belpre Elementary School - Activities and posters throughout the week; Mayor Mike Lorentz will read a proclamation declaring Red Ribbon Week in the city on Thursday.
Frontier High School - A carnival featuring goggles designed to simulate the effects of intoxication and games including trivia related to drug and alcohol abuse will be held Friday.
Marietta High School - The SADD chapter will sponsor different activities aimed at drug and alcohol abuse prevention during lunch throughout the week.
Marietta Middle School - Activities throughout the week with Marietta College students; Mayor Joe Matthews will read a Red Ribbon Week proclamation.
St. John Central Grade School - Age-appropriate presentation by an EVE Inc. prevention specialist Monday, different clothing themes throughout the week.
At Frontier High School, a week's worth of activities is being combined into one big one on Friday, with a carnival featuring games that tie in with the week's overall message, guidance counselor Holly Cunningham said.
The carnival was the idea of the student council and could provide an alternative to bringing in a speaker, as the school has done in the past, she said. Among other activities, students will have the chance to don goggles that simulate the effects of being intoxicated.
"We're going to have them ... riding a bicycle and trying to shoot a basketball and seeing how alcohol can influence their abilities to even do these relatively simple tasks," Cunningham said.
A different theme each day of the week will frame the message for kindergarten-through-eighth-graders at St. John Central Grade School.
They will be encouraged to wear red on Monday, and blue to match Tuesday's theme of "Drugs give you the blues." Patriotic and school colors are on tap for Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Friday's theme is "Being drug-free is no sweat," allowing the students to trade in their school uniforms for sweats.
"So that will be a dress-down day," said school nurse Jean Tornes. "It's just something for the kids and, you know, they learn something at the same time."
The week will start off with a presentation by EVE Inc.'s Lashley Early, offering an age-appropriate "brain power" program about the dangers of drug abuse.
"You can never start too early," Tornes said.
Red Ribbon Week was started following the 1985 murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent Kiki Camarena by drug traffickers in Mexico City. Residents of his hometown of Calexico, Calif., wore red ribbons in his honor, and those ribbons became the symbol of intolerance toward drug use, according to www.nfp.org.