Riverside Elementary School kicked off Red Ribbon Week with a We Will Walk Away from Drugs parade around the track.
Pupils from Patti Jordan's second-grade class at Riverside Elementary School, Matthew Locke (from left), Whitney Johnson, Laura James and Dallas Kennedy march around the track at the school chanting anti-drug slogans. The entire school, along with schools
throughout the country, took part in Red Ribbon Week, which promotes drug awareness.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
And, the message seemed to stick. Second-grader Tori Bolton had a plan of what to do if someone offered her drugs.
"I would say no and walk away," she said. "Drugs are bad for your body."
Riverside Elementary was just one of several schools in the area celebrating Red Ribbon Week, which ends today. Red Ribbon Week began Monday with a Border Tying Ceremony between Georgia and South Carolina school and government officials at the Interstate 20 Welcome Center.
When Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique Camarena was murdered by Mexican drug lords in 1985, his family and friends wore red satin badges in his memory. With his belief that "one person can make a difference" Camarena became a hero, and the red ribbon became a symbol of his legacy.
The first National Red Ribbon Celebration was in the fall of 1988, and now, each October communities throughout the country take a stand against drugs with Red Ribbon Week activities.
"A big part of this week is teaching kids how to make good decisions and to keep their bodies healthy," Riverside Elementary School Counselor Melody Pennington said.
While few are exposed to drugs in elementary school, it will likely be a time when cigarettes are first offered, Pennington said.
"If they learn about his now, then by the time they get to middle school they will have some plan, a background for making good decisions," she said. "Whether or not it will keep them from using drugs, it's hard to say. But at least we will have put the thought in their heads and hopefully they will carry with them what they've learned."
Safe and Drug Free Schools Counselor Pat Wiggins said the Harlem High School Band and Harlem High members of Students Against Drunk Driving (S.A.D.D.) traveled to Cross Creek High School in Richmond County on Thursday for Ribbon Tying Ceremony between Columbia and Richmond County Schools.
At Greenbrier Elementary School on Friday, State Patrol officers arrived in a helicopter, making a grand entrance for their presentation to the children about drug use.
But while individual schools had activities planned, the system had no coordinated effort to mark the week.
"In Columbia County, we are taking a stronger approach against drugs and alcohol with a new initiative that is going to be taking place all year long in schools," Wiggins said.
Each school has formed a committee of teachers, parents, administrators and community leaders to address the drug and alcohol problems at their schools.
"We are trying to not only educate students, but parents as well," Wiggins said. "We felt like there was so much emphasis on this one week that we let our guard down the rest of the year. Now we're trying to spend a lot more time throughout the year to address this problem."
For more information about Red Ribbon Week, visit www.redribboncoalition.org/ http://www.redribbonworks.org
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