Students celebrate drug-free lifestyle

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 30, 1999

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / October 30, 1999

If the public schools of St. John Parish seem to be sporting a lot of redthis week, your eyesight isn’t playing tricks on you, and it isn’t the latest fad.

This is Red Ribbon Week across the nation and in St. John Parish. Teachersand students are sporting red ribbons, trees on school property have big red bows on them and fences are adorned with red cups spelling out slogans like “Drug-Free Zone” and “Just Say No.”Over at the St. John Child Development Center in Garyville tots arewearing mis-matched socks to “sock it to drugs.” At East St. JohnElementary students are wearing crazy hats to “put a lid on drugs,” and at the Glade School students and faculty are all wearing ties to “tie it up and be drug free.”Red Ribbon Week is an idea started by the National Federation of Parents for a Drug-Free Youth back in 1988. The red ribbon is a symbol toeliminate the demand for drugs and to show intolerance for drugs in schools and the workplace.

The ribbons are also in honor of the memory of Enrique Camarena, an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency who was tortured and murdered by Mexican drug dealers back in 1985.

Wearing ribbons and hats wasn’t the only activities going on in the parish this week. Several schools had representatives from the St. John Sheriff’sOffice come visit and lecture about the dangers of drugs. Students at WestSt. John High School released hundreds of red and white balloons as a signof hope that drugs will be conquered.

“We hope that where ever these balloons land, they will give someone hope to stop doing drugs,” said one student.

Red Ribbon Week culminated Thursday with a big Red Ribbon Rally on the steps of the Capitol in Baton Rouge. At the rally, attended by students,faculty, law enforcement officers and state Attorney General Richard Ieyoub, there were medals given to the three best anti-drug essays statewide in three categories – high school, junior high and elementary. ASt. John Parish elementary student, Taylor Atkinson of John L. OryElementary Magnet, won the elementary category with his essay, “Why It Is Important to be Drug Free.” There was also a battle of the bands, and East St. John High Schoolmarching band won first place over bands from all over the state.

The final activity for Red Ribbon Week is the “Light the Way” ceremony which was performed at a majority of high school football games through out the parish and the state.

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