Students sign off against drugs
November 9, 2011
- "I'm planting a promise not to use drugs."
HOHENFELS, Germany -- A sea of red flooded the halls of Hohenfels Elementary school as students donned red shirts and ribbons in support of a drug-free lifestyle in celebration of National Red Ribbon week, Oct 22-30.
"It's mostly about raising consciousness," said Maria Ebert, school guidance counselor. "It's a time when parents and teachers talk about the issues of drug and alcohol abuse."
Began in 1988 as a tribute to DEA Special Agent Enriqué "Kiki" Camarena who was killed in the line of duty, Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest anti-drug program in the country. Estimates place participation in red ribbon events at more than 80 million people a year.
"Red ribbon week represents everybody being drug free so they can have a good life," proclaimed fifth- grader Matthew Palumbo.
Sixth-graders crafted banners with anti-drug slogans, and students throughout the school added their signatures to the banners along with U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels Commander Lt. Col. Kevin J. Quarles.
"By you all signing this banner, we're all making a promise to ourselves and to each other…that we won't' do drugs," Quarles told the children.
Other themes for the week included "Hats off to a Drug-Free Lifestyle" in which participants wore their craziest hats to school, and "Turn your back on drugs" with students wearing their shirts backwards. Additionally, fifth and sixth graders planted tulips throughout the week.
Besides the fun activities, students learn the downside of drugs.
"I go into the classrooms and talk to the children about things they can understand on their level," Ebert said. For the younger students, she said that might involve explaining the difference between a good drug and a bad drug.
"With the older kids, we'll talk more about alcohol and drug abuse, and why it's important to stay off drugs," said Ebert.
"The main focus of Red Ribbon Weeks is that the community, the parents, and the teachers all deliver a consistent message against drug abuse," Ebert said. "And we do it every year to remind them that this is something important."
Fifth grader Maddie Hall knows it's important. Patting down the dirt over her freshly buried tulip-bulb she said, "I'm planting a promise not to use drugs."