Planting the promise
Sixth-grader Keshon McCune plants a tulip bulb as a symbolic promise not to do drugs during Hohenfels Elementary School's Red Ribbon Week activities, Oct. 23.

HOHENFELS, Germany -- Red outfits, backward shirts and crazy socks all played a part in Hohenfels Elementary School's drug abuse awareness program during their Red Ribbon Week celebrations, Oct. 23-26.

"Red ribbon week started when a drug enforcement agent named 'Kiki' (Enrique) Camarena was killed when he was trying to stop drugs," explained sixth-grader Jesse Paddock.

Paddock, a member of the peer counseling program at HES, gave speeches to kindergarten and second-grade classes on the history of Red Ribbon Week and the benefits of living a drug-free lifestyle.

"For me, to be drug free means that I will not do drugs as long as I live and I can have a long and healthy life," said Paddock, who often spends his recess or lunch period counseling his younger schoolmates.

All the classes lined up during the opening day ceremonies to sign banners proclaiming their commitment to a drug-free lifestyle. A group of sixth-graders created the banners, inventing their own slogans such as "Don't hesitate -- close the gate on drugs," and crafting the banners during recesses.

Besides "Turn your back on drugs day" with students wearing their shirts backward and "Sock it to drugs day" with children sporting crazy colored socks, the fifth and sixth graders also participated in tulip planting around the school grounds.

"'Planting the promise' is a pledge of the children where they do a symbolic action in which the benefits come later," said Maria Ebert, HES guidance counselor. "By being drug free, they're going to have more opportunities in their lifetime for good things happen. So, it's a promise not to use illegal substances and to see the fruits of our actions bloom later."

"I'm plan ting my promise to not do drugs and to live a drug free life so I can live healthy and get good grades," declared fifth-grader Caleb Cavender.

Ebert, a former adolescent substance abuse councilor, said she has been promoting Red Ribbon Week since 1990. This is the third year she's been running the program at HES.

"If you give them a consistent message, year after year, you've got a much better chance of getting it to stick," said Ebert.

Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest anti-drug program in the country with estimates placing participation at more than 80 million people a year.

Page last updated Thu November 1st, 2012 at 00:00