Anti-Drug Red Ribbon Week Celebrated at Area Schools

Students at Calais Elementary School hoisted an anti-drug banner as part of their Red Ribbon Week kick-off parade event on Friday, October 20th. (Photo by Beth McCray)

By Lura Jackson

 

In a community that continues to feel the effects of street and prescription drug abuse, it is particularly important to connect with the youth in the area to show solidarity in affirming a commitment to remain drug-free. As such, elementary schools and the City of Calais itself are participating in Red Ribbon Week, a national anti-drug campaign that runs from October 23rd to October 31st. 

Red Ribbon Week has its beginnings in 1985 when US Drug Enforcement Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was slain by drug traffickers in Mexico City. Following Camarena’s death, communities around the country honored his memory by wearing red ribbons. Today, Red Ribbon Week is celebrated across the country to encourage children to refrain from abusing legal drugs or using illegal drugs. This year’s theme is “Your future is key, so stay drug free.” 

At Calais Elementary School, the week was kicked off by the annual Red Ribbon parade on October 20th. Students heard a proclamation of support from the city, read by City Manager Jim Porter. Members of the Police Department, including Chief David Randall, Matt Vinson, and Roliza DeWitt (known affectionally to the children as “Rescue Ro”) were joined by Calais fireman Billy Pulk at the assembly. Chief Randall told the children that he was very proud of the students for making the pledge to remain drug-free. He said there were three factors that he identified as being key in remaining drug-free: staying in school, striving to do their best for the people around them every day, including their family and friends, and never giving up on one’s dreams. 

After the assembly, students participated in a parade that traveled down North Street before turning onto Lincoln, then onto Calais Avenue, and then returned to the school via Garfield Street. At the front of the parade, children carried a banner that read, “Our School is 2 Cool to do Drugs!”

In Baileyville, students at Woodland Elementary School are celebrating Red Ribbon Week by participating in a themed dress up contest each day. One day had the students wearing all red, and another encouraged them to “Put a Lid on it” by wearing hats. 

According to the National Family Partnership, the organization sponsoring Red Ribbon Week, children that are spoken to regularly by their parents about the dangers of drug abuse are 42 percent less likely to engage in such activities. Unfortunately, only a quarter of teenagers report having these conversations, indicating the need for community-wide involvement in raising awareness.   

Parents carry additional responsibility in the fact that most incidents of teenagers or children experimenting with prescription drugs occur when youth take medicine prescribed to their parents without their parents’ knowledge. To learn more about how parents can limit this activity, visit www.lockyourmeds.org, or contact a local police station to find out about proper medication storage and disposal. 

As part of Red Ribbon Week, students at Calais Elementary participated in a parade down North Street and heard City Manager Jim Porter give a proclamation announcing Calais' support of being drug free. (Photos by Beth McCray)