Each year, a week in October is dedicated to educating children about the dangers of harmful decisions.
Red Ribbon Week was started in 1988 by President Reagan to commemorate the death of Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena who was tortured and killed by drug traffickers in Mexico while he was working undercover.
Since 1988, Red Ribbon Week has worked with schools across the nation to convey the devastating effects drugs and alcohol can have on a person’s life.
Schools across Oktibbeha County go all out for Red Ribbon Week in an effort to get children excited about their futures and impress upon them the importance of saying no.
Each day of the week is designated a drug-free saying, and the children dress to reflect that. Monday was “don’t get tied up in drugs,” and the students worn funky ties. Tuesday was “sock it to drugs,” where the students wore crazy colored socks. Wednesday was deemed “use your head, say not to drugs,” where children were allowed to wear hats to school (as long as they didn’t interfere with classroom instruction). Thursday’s theme was red day where the students wore red accessories and clothes. Red Ribbon Week culminated Friday with “too bright for drugs,” where the students wore sunglasses.
Starkville Academy students visited the Starkville Police Department Friday to understand an officer’s perspective on the reason for Red Ribbon Week. D.A.R.E. Officer Laura Hines Roberson, who conducts D.A.R.E. education classes with the sixth graders, and Sgt. Shawn Word talked with the students about what it means to be an officer, and how Agent Camarena’s death is a loss to all officers.
“I believe it is important for them to see the reality that officers do lose their lives because of those who participate in drug activity,” Roberson said, “and for the kids to see how important it is for them not to do drugs because that could be responsible for an officers losing his life.”
The Starkville High School SADD division of Project PASS, which is funded by the grant through the Family-Centered Programs department, wanted to do their part in reaching the younger students so they put on a puppet show for the children of Henderson Intermediate.
“We decided it was a positive way to reach the younger students, and for the high school kids to serve as role models,” Project PASS Coordinator Linda Walker said.
The puppet show, written and directed by Terry Gladney, used the talk show Jerry Springer as inspiration for the “Larry Zinger Show”.
In this episode of the Larry Zinger Show, Larry is talking with parents of teens who made poor decisions regarding underage drinking.
The SADD students also planted red tulips (which should bloom next spring) in the school’s courtyard to symbolize the school’s support of a drug free life-style and environment.
In addition to the planting, students and teachers wore red ribbons and clothing showing their visible support for a drug-free lifestyle throughout the week-long awareness event. A wall of red ribbons in the hallway of SHS was also a visual display of the school and the students’ commitment to be drug free. SHS SADD President Javier Prater says members decided to participate in the “Plant the Promise” campaign to remind their school and the Starkville community of the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Ward Stewart students participated in a reddest room competition where Regina Jones’ third graders won and Itaska Rosamond’s fourth graders took first prize. Students also participated in a poster contest to see who could come up with the best Red Ribbon Week slogan.
“It’s important to teach our younger children about Red Ribbon Week because drugs limit their potential, and teaching them to meet their potential is what teaching is all about,” Rosamond said.