Red Ribbon Week promotes anti-drug message to students

Published 11:52 pm Saturday, November 11, 2006

Pearl River Central Upper and Lower Elementary Schools celebrated National Red Ribbon Week October 23-27, 2006. This week is celebrated throughout our country as a tribute to a fallen hero, DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena. He grew up very poor and vowed one day to make a difference. He was tragically murdered by drug traffickers in Mexico in February of 1985. In his memory, friends and family began to wear red badges of satin. Parents, sick of the destruction caused by alcohol and drugs, began to form coalitions and adopted the red ribbon as their symbol. Thus, the first Nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign was born in 1988. Millions of U.S. children have been reached with the anti-drug/alcohol message.

This year’s theme was “100% Me – Drug-Free”. The school, the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, Wal-mart, and the Picayune Police Department provided small prizes with drug-free and encouraging messages for each student each day such as red ribbons, bracelets, suckers, pencils, coloring books, erasers, and “Trick or Treat” bags with safety tips. On Monday, the high school cheerleaders began the week with excitement cheering along the daily drop-off students and parents reminding them to be drug-free. On Tuesday, the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi presented “SWAT on the Road” to the 5th graders which is an interactive presentation of tobacco facts. Friday, the Upper Elementary Show Choir, under the direction of Mrs. Julie Thompson, and Pearl River County Sheriff’s Officer Ismael Quiroz, did an outstanding anti-drug choral presentation. They were assisted by Miss Carla Strahan and Miss Beth Cheron. This presentation included a skit with three high school participants, Virginia Blanchet, Sadie Penton, and Sarah Sable. These girls and Officer Quiroz demonstrated the affect of friends on our choices; and, they demonstrated the outcome of a healthy, productive life without drugs, and the outcome of a sad, nonproductive life with drugs that ended in jail. Officer Quiroz also spoke to them about how important it is to make the right choice to refuse drugs related to the devastating impact of drug use on their lives such as loss of family, friends, jobs, health, freedom, and dignity. Mrs. Elaine Welsh, Upper Elementary Principal, introduced each presentation and spoke with the students regarding the importance of being 100% drug-free for life. The teachers of grades K-3 provided the “Resist All Tobacco” (RAT) curriculum, and the teachers of grades 4-5 provided anti-tobacco information from the “Students Working Against Tobacco” (SWAT) curriculum. Mrs. Vicki Comardelle continued the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) teams. Mrs. Shirley Jo Thompson, Lower Elementary Art Teacher, assisted the K-2 students the week prior to color and cut out pictures of themselves being drug-free. These pictures were used to decorate the cafeteria. The cafeteria participated by providing red food throughout the week.

The annual door-decorating contest was on Thursday. Approximately 3 weeks prior to Red Ribbon Week, the teachers were asked to have their students help to decorate a door using the theme. All teachers who participated had their names entered for a random drawing to win a gift certificate to Melinda’s Gift Shop. The doors were judged by Mrs. Nina Guthrie, Assistant Superintendent, Mrs. Chrissy Lewis, PRC Central Office, and Mrs. Penny Holifield, R.N., ITF School Nurse funded by the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. The doors were judged according to the theme, color, originality, and student participation. The classroom and office winners were as follows: Kg: Mrs. Theresa Waltz – 1st place, Mrs. Melissa Hoffman – 2nd place, and Mrs. Sherri Franklin – 3rd place; 1st grade: Mrs. Shawn Dennis – 1st place, Peggy Miley – 2nd place, and Marilyn Moore – 3rd place; 2nd grade: Mrs. Tessie Miller – 1st place and Mrs. Linda Bilbo – Honorable Mention; 3rd grade: Ms. Dorothy Stockstill – 1st place and Mrs. Keely Eastridge – Honorable Mention; 4th grade: Mrs. Sena Ranatza – 1st place, Mrs. Margaret Stewart – Honorable Mention, and Ms. Darlene Mitchell – Honorable Mention; 5th grade: Mrs. Joanne Saucier – 1st place and Mrs. Phoebe Smith – Honorable Mention; Upper Elementary Special/Activity winner: Tutoring Lab; Lower Elementary Special/Activity winner: Lower Library with Ms. Wendy Hunter; and Office winner: Lower Elementary. Several other classes were also recognized for their student participation. The classroom winners received a treat. The Overall Lower Elementary winner was Mrs. Shawn Dennis’s class. Her door/wall theme was of a movie production “Now Playing- 100% Drug-Free”. It featured her students as the stars of the show with silhouettes of each student’s head. Each student was also featured in a photo of themselves in their future occupation. The Overall Upper Elementary winner was Mrs. Joanne Saucier’s class. Her door/wall featured a “drug-free” ship with the students writing about the effects of drugs and what they could do or be without them. The Overall classroom winners received classroom, teacher, and individual student prizes.

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We would like to thank all those mentioned for helping make our week a success. We’d especially like to thank our teachers for their continued positive influences on our students throughout the school year by encouraging them to always be the best they can be. Also, congratulations to all the winners.