Door decorating contests, dress-up days, posters, a book character parade, a WalkTober event and tying red ribbons on trees.
These were among the ways Jackson County schools celebrated Red Ribbon Week during the last week of October.
The nation’s largest and longest-running drug-use prevention campaign is led by National Family Partnership, formerly the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth. It was established as a grassroots, nonprofit organization in 1980 by a handful of concerned and determined parents who were convinced they should begin to play a leadership role in drug prevention, according to redribbon.org.
Today, NFP provides drug awareness by sponsoring the annual National Red Ribbon Campaign. Since its beginning in 1985, the Red Ribbon has touched the lives of millions of people around the world, serving as a symbol of commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction cause by drugs in America. The Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.
Locally this year, Seymour Middle School and Medora Community Schools conducted door decorating contests. Classroom doors were decorated with a drug-free message, and students and staff cast votes for their favorite.
At SMS, Clayton Carr’s PRIDE class was selected the winner. It featured the message “Drugs are a nightmare.”
“My class came up with the general design based on a class vote for what they wanted the theme to be,” said Carr, a math teacher at the school. “It initially started out as a skeleton theme, and a student brought up the idea of Jack Skellington. I took it from there and put a Red Ribbon Week twist on it.”
The work was completed by Carr.
“I told the students that I would draw whatever they needed me to and that they would direct the creation of the door,” he said. “We looked through some sample images of Jack Skellington with backgrounds, and they voted on one they wanted for the general design.”
Since there were a lot of creative doors around SMS, Carr was pleasantly surprised when he learned his was declared the winner.
“I am very excited for my class watching their creativity be channeled into a positive message and watching it win the contest,” Carr said. “I hope the kiddos take away the message that a drug-free life is the life to live.”
He said it was great seeing the school come together and create a sense of community.
“To know that there are peers around you that support a drug-free lifestyle, I believe it empowers students to feel like they don’t have to feel peer pressure into something they don’t want to do,” he said.
Meigan Vest, the seventh grade counselor at SMS, said the door decorating contest and special dress days for the students combined for a great week.
“We participate in Red Ribbon Week in hopes to bring awareness to just saying no to drugs,” she said. “Students had fun dressing up to different themes built around saying no to drugs, and they loved helping their team and class decorate their doors.”
At Medora, Marissa Hatchett’s preschool classroom was the door decorating contest winner. She combined Minions and Spider-Man and shared the message “Drugs are despicable.”
Normally, she takes a class vote to decide on class ideas. In this case, Minions and Spider-Man were the top choices, so they rolled with it.
“For my pre-K kiddos, picking the door was really about them choosing things they are interested in,” Hatchett said. “If I can incorporate what my kids are interested in, then they are more engaged in the lesson.”
The message she shared with the kids was all about healthy choices.
“Making sure that what we choose to put into our body are healthy choices, which starts with healthy food choices,” she said. “Pre-K is too young to talk specifically about drugs, but talking about the choices we make and how they affect our body is the first step.”
She was glad to see the school come together for Red Ribbon Week.
“The kiddos really love getting involved, especially when it’s something they know is important to their teachers,” Hatchett said. “At Medora, we are all like family, and we as teachers/staff want our kids to be the best they can be. Red Ribbon Week is about promoting positive social behaviors. Our goal is prevention, helping our students make good choices and promoting the importance of living a drug-, alcohol- and tobacco-free life.”
For the Red Ribbon Week posters, Brownstown Elementary School student council members decorated them, and they were then placed on the wall in the cafeteria.
The book character parade was conducted by Crothersville Elementary School students in the school’s main gymnasium. That gave students a chance to dress up like a character from a book.
The Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center hosted a WalkTober event on the last day of Red Ribbon Week. It was a fundraiser for the school that shared the message of students saying no to drugs for every step they took.
At Seymour High School, freshmen gathered in groups to tie large red ribbons around trees on the lawn of the school. Guidance counselor Billy Harmon, who organized the Red Ribbon Week activities, said that helped show the school’s drug-free message and philosophy.
Fellow guidance counselor Nikki Storey said while sophomores and juniors were taking the PSAT, this activity gave the freshmen something to do that was educational and meaningful.
“Last year, because of COVID, we just let freshmen go home and have an eLearning day, but we wanted to do something this year that hopefully would provide some prevention and education for the students,” she said.
Harmon said freshmen also watched a couple of videos — one about an Avon teenager who regularly vaped and wound up in the hospital and another featuring various celebrities encouraging kids to find a natural high.
“Whether it’s biking, it could be playing a sport, it could be something music-related, but something natural to make you feel good, not to rely on the artificial high of drugs,” Harmon said. “Find that now instead of finding something artificial later on that you’re going to try to rely on that’s not healthy.”
For the whole school, students took a Red Ribbon Week quiz on Monday and Friday, and the only dress-up day was Friday with the message “Team up against drugs,” where students wore apparel showing their favorite sports team.
”The goal is over the course of the week, they are going to have an improvement in score from pretest to posttest,” Harmon said of the quizzes.