The annual Red Ribbon Week kicked off Tuesday, in an effort to continue the fight on drug prevention.
Red Ribbon Week began in the 1980s after a federal Drug Enforcement Agent was killed in the line of duty, due to a drug-related crime. In honor and memory of the agent, schools across the country have been getting their students involved by wearing red and by creating events that help to teach kids about drug prevention and awareness.
Berta Weathersbee Elementary School incorporated Red Ribbon Week into their school by joining it with the school’s career week with the theme, “Chose a Career- Not Drugs,” also having a different theme each day. The students were able to talk with surgeons, police officers, and firefighters.
LaGrange Police Officer Jim Davidson spoke to the elementary students on Wednesday about his role in preventing drugs and helping to get drugs off the streets. After asking the students how many of them wanted to be police officers when they grow up, and about half of the students raising their hands, Davidson encouraged that students can act as police while they are young by letting police know when they see drugs and other bad things going on around them.
Red Ribbon Week is significant to the students because a large majority of them attested to something being stolen from their homes due to burglary. Davidson stated that 90 percent of those crimes are drug-or-gang-related. While on the topic of staying away from drugs, he also talked about the importance of saying “No,” to gangs and bullying. Instead of joining a bad gang, he encouraged the students to join good gangs of people, such as the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and church groups. He emphasized to fifth graders the prevalence of drugs, gangs, and bullying in high school and warned the pre-middle school students that they will definitely see them in middle school and to avoid them.
Principal of Berta Weathersbee, Dr. Lorraine Jackson, says the students always look forward to Red Ribbon Week and feels that the program is effective for the students. She says that this school community is more likely to be affected by drugs and the goals of the program are very important to her.
“The goal is to keep children safe in and out of school and to help them look for signs and educate them on signs outside of school,” said Jackson.
Principal Jackson instills the phrase, “Career is life-long, drugs is short-term.” to all of her students and hopes that the phrase sticks with them.
Red Ribbon Week ends Oct. 31, with the school’s theme of the day “Drugs and I don’t MIX,” where the students can wear mismatched clothing.