Red Ribbon Week Makes a Return

By Mia Saraceni

Observed by many schools across the country, Red Ribbon week is the longest standing anti-drug campaign in the United States. While GS hasn’t taken part in this for quite some time, a small club is determined to bring it back.

Members of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) were the brains behind getting the plan into action, proposing the idea to both GS principals.

The club, led by physical education and health teacher Mrs. Alyssa Lukatch, consists of students who pride themselves on promoting good choices for their peers. Such an event this year is the return of Red Ribbon Week.

Originally started in 1998, it began after the death of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena, also known as Kiki. On a mission to stop the import of illegal substances from Mexico, Camarena was murdered by drug traffickers and, after his passing, people began wearing red ribbons in his honor.

Schools across America have commemorated Camarena’s sacrifice since, but with the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the nation, it was forced to a halt, at least at GS.

SADD club Social Media Chair Ashlan Price is in charge of promoting the week to students, and she plans to do so by various means.

Dress-up themes for the week. Photo Credit: SADD club.

“We started a SADD club Instagram because that is the main thing that gets teenagers’ attention,” Price said. “We thought if we could post more and make it more popular, then more people would get involved.”

Student participation in this event is critical, as the message needs to be spread so that it can reach the people it needs to the most.

Mrs. Lukatch holds firm in the same belief as Price, that the more engagement, the better.

“Anytime you bring awareness to an issue—no matter how big or small—it will make an impact,” Lukatch said.

Drug use has impacted students in high school for as long as one can remember, whether that be directly or indirectly. The club’s mission- and the mission of Red Ribbon week- is to hopefully hit home and maybe influence better decisions for all students.

Besides using social media to spread the word, Price plans to use posters displayed in the hallways to inform students.

“We plan to have posters advertising the spirit days for the people that are unaware of the Instagram,” she said. “We were looking into posters to advertise the SADD club, as well. We want to get more people involved.”

Spirit week is planned to begin on October 24th and end the 28th, and the club has a lot of ideas on what is to go on.

Co-President Ella Henry is one of the main faces involved in the events, and she planned a multitude of fun happenings.

“That Wednesday [October 26th], when students wear red in honor of spreading awareness, we’ll hold a drug Kahoot during advisory,” Henry said. “Students who win can come down to Mrs. Lukatch’s room to receive their prize.”

While actual ribbons won’t be handed out, the spirit week remains, and students are encouraged to take part.

The week’s themes are as follows: Monday is a neon themed day, Tuesday is beach theme, Wednesday is wear red, Thursday is a day to wear your favorite shoes and Friday is jersey day.

Club Treasurer Alice Wilkinson plans on handing out a multitude of fun prizes such as pencils, sunglasses and tote bags.

Besides all the fun things planned, there will be a more serious part to this very important event.

“We will be creating memorial hearts for those affected by drug abuse,” Henry said. “I would like to clarify that SADD club will overlook this process and confidentiality will be ensured. They’ll be writing things like ‘friend,’ ‘aunt,’ etc.”

The general consensus among both leaders and members of this club is that drug use is a pandemic that widely affects almost every person, and their opinions on why Red Ribbon week is so important have glaring similarities.

“I think drugs are something that are now normalized, and they are something that are huge in today’s society,” Price said. ‘I would like to stop that. The SADD club and Red Ribbon week are to prevent drugs. The more people we get to join, the less people who are making destructive decisions.”

Henry shared the same sentiment, citing almost the same reason as Price.

“I think Red Ribbon week is very important to recognize, for there’s so many people that die from substance abuse,” she said. “If people can be made aware of those effects, then hopefully we can reduce those affected by addiction.”

Wilkinson is in agreement with both Henry and Price as well.

“I think it’s important because drugs and alcohol have affected so many people and their families,” she said. “I think it should be something people are at least aware of, whether or not they’re personally affected by it.”

While nobody is jaded enough to believe this will change the minds of every person who abuses substances, the fact that this could reach even one person is reason enough to make it happen.

“It may not be a message that reaches all students, but even if it can reach a few, it’s worth putting out there,” Mrs. Lukatch said. “Its nice to see students and staff come together on an issue that hits some of our students and community pretty hard.”

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