Elizabeth Middle School celebrated Red Ribbon Week, which ran from Oct. 25-31, as part of the National Family Partnership’s Red Ribbon Campaign against substance abuse and violence.
Students began the school week by wearing red on Oct. 26 and …
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Students began the school week by wearing red on Oct. 26 and decorating classroom doors with the theme: Stay in the Game, Play Drug Free.
Events throughout the week included drug-free pledges and hat day, a fundraiser that allowed students to wear a hat to school on Oct. 30 for a $1 donation.
One of the highlights of the week was a visit from the Colorado Joint Counterdrug Task Force (CO-JCDTF) from Buckley Air Force Base. Lt. Col. Rob Soper and his team arrived in grand style, landing a Colorado Army National Guard Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on the athletic field to the cheers of more than 400 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.
“We’re the Colorado National Guard, so we come from the communities here,” Soper told the students. “Our families are here. Our kids are in these communities, so it’s really important for us to make sure we get this message out and to keep everybody safe.”
Soper explained to the students that drug use severely limits career opportunities, especially in the careers relating to aviation, law enforcement and the military.
“You are going to come to a crossroads in your life and you’re going to have to make a choice of which direction to go,” Soper told them. “Right now every door is open to you, but if you choose the wrong path, the path of substance abuse, those doors are going to get closed on you.”
Soper, who has served in the Army for 29 years, said that he reached his career goals, especially flying, by studying, staying healthy and living drug-free.
The National Family Partnership sponsors Red Ribbon Week each October. The weeklong campaign promotes prevention, early intervention and treatment of substance abuse along with the prevention of violence.
A Drug Enforcement Administration agent (name withheld) explained to the students that the Red Ribbon drive got its start after Mexican drug traffickers kidnapped, tortured, and murdered DEA agent Enrique (Kiki) Camarena in February of 1985.
Following the murder, Camarena’s friends and neighbors wore red ribbons to honor his memory and to show their solidarity for his commitment to one person making a difference.
“It started in California,” the agent said, “and started making its way across the U.S.”
The movement quickly evolved into the “Just Say No” program championed by President Ronald Regan and first lady Nancy Reagan. Today the program assists local organizations to educate youths about the dangers of substance abuse.
“You guys have heard about `just say no’; it’s about the easiest thing there is,” the agent said.
Following the presentations, Soper invited each class to take a closer look at the Black Hawk, and he and his team handed out the red ribbons commemorating the week to each student.
The visit to Elizabeth Middle School was one of four visits by the CO-JCDTF crew for the day, including one stop in Kiowa. Last year the Colorado Joint Counterdrug Task Force brought helicopters to 96 Colorado schools.
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