From Oct. 22-26, elementary students in Dunkirk participated in activities to mark Red Ribbon Week, a national anti-drug campaign sponsored by the National Family Partnership. Each day featured activities to deliver the message "the best me is drug free."
Activities varied according to elementary school, but all were geared to encourage the children to commit to a drug-free life style. Wearing something red to school at least one day during the week was a common theme. This is done in memory of federal drug enforcement officer Enrique Camarena, who died on assignment in Mexico in 1985 while investigating a drug cartel.
His friends and neighbors began to wear red badges to show their intolerance toward drugs. In 1988, the National Family Partnership began to sponsor Red Ribbon Week.
Red Ribbon Week promots drug-free lives
Schools 3 and 4 students walked around the block. At School 4, many of the students created signs which they carried. Some students chanted "Just say no" or "no more drugs" as they marched. At School 3 the classes were challenged to show their spirit and creativity. The Parent Teachers Organization at the school will treat the winning class to a pizza party.
At Schools 4 and 5, the students launched red and white balloons with tags identifying the school's address and asking the finder to contact the school. School 4 conducted the launch on Wednesday and School 5 on Thursday. At both schools, students shouted with excitement when they let the helium filled balloons go.
Debra Rozumalski, coordinator of the events at School 4, said, "These balloons are biodegradable, so they will not harm wildlife."
OBSERVER Photo by Matt Panebianco
Students at School 5 cheer as their balloons gain altitude. A balloon launch was held on Thursday as part of Red Ribbon Week.
She also provided information about how the activities helped students learn. The events were tied into the curriculum. From the balloon launch, the students learned about the use of helium. As information about where the balloons are found comes in, the students can learn about geography. Last year, one of the balloons from School 4's launch was found in Grand Gorge, about 360 miles from Dunkirk.
Schools 4 and 5 also decided to plant bulbs that should produce red tulips next spring. The students, teachers, and staff at School 4 planted 250 bulbs on Tuesday. Children were encouraged to come to school in clothes suitable for planting. Each class had a scheduled time and Principal Kimberlee Texter gave the students a quick science lesson before planting. She showed them the correct way to place the bulb in the ground, and pointed out the roots on the bulbs. Dressed for planting herself, she went out and filled cups with dirt so the children could cover the bulbs.
She explained to the children that tulips are perennial and should come up each spring. "Even when you are older, you will be able to see the tulips you planted. You can remember your promise to be drug-free," she said.
Maintenance worker Thomas Tarnowski patiently helped the children place the bulbs in holes he had dug around the flagpole. Some children learned that watering the bulbs was not necessary since it was raining.
The schools encouraged essays and posters on the anti-drug message.
All schools had themes each day. Building administrator at School 7, Michele Heenan, said on Monday the students wore their shirts backwards to remind them to "turn your back on drugs." Tuesday, sports jerseys or a School 7 shirt was worn to "team up against drugs." Wednesday students wore slippers to remind them to "give drugs the slip." On Thursday, children brought in a favorite stuffed animal for the theme "hugs not drugs." The children received smarties candy on Friday to remind them that "Smarties at School 7 don't do drugs."
The Parent Teachers Organization, faculty and staff in each school supported the events.
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