Lehighton Area School District has been busy making preparations for Red Ribbon Week next Monday through Friday, which will emphasize a strong message of anti-drug, anti-alcohol abuse, and anti-bullying.
"Red Ribbon Week is very important for both the school and community," said LASD Drug and Alcohol Prevention/Education Specialist Travis Andrews who is employed by Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc. Andrews is helping conduct the K through 12 alcohol, tobacco, and other drug education prevention programs and services for the school district.
Under the direction of Tim Tkach, district coordinator of Curriculum, Instruction, and Grants, Andrews is working with administrators, guidance counselors, and teachers to help provide Red Ribbon Week programs for both students and the community.
Red Ribbon Week began after the kidnapping, torture, and brutal murder of Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena and fellow agents in 1985. Citizens in Camarena's hometown of Calexico, Calif., donned red ribbons in his honor. The red ribbon became their symbol for prevention in order to reduce the demand of illegal drugs.
Today, Red Ribbon Week helps to bring millions of people together to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. It encourages prevention, early intervention, and treatment services. It is the largest, most visible prevention awareness campaign observed annually in the United States.
In honor of Red Ribbon Week, Lehighton Area High School will host "theme" days. Monday's theme is "Team up against drugs and bullying." Students are encouraged to wear their favorite team or club shirt/jersey.
Everyone is asked to wear red on Tuesday in support of Red Ribbon Week.
"Use your head, don't do drugs" is the theme for Wednesday. Students are to wear a hat or crazy hair but no hair dye.
Thursday's theme is "Living drug-free is no sweat." Students are encouraged to wear sweats to school.
The week wraps up Friday with the theme "Be proud to be drug-free." As the football team prepares for its final home game of the 2012 season against Pocono Mountain West, all students are asked to wear the school colors of maroon and white.
According to high school Guidance Counselor Kathy Ebbert, LAHS will also sponsor a door decorating contest with the theme "Believe, achieve, succeed drug-free" which will encourage an anti-drug, anti-bullying message.
A theme for each day will also be featured at Lehighton Area Middle School.
Monday is "Patriotic Day." Students are to wear red, white, and blue.
Everyone is asked to wear as much red as possible on Tuesday for "Operation Red Out."
"Support your favorite team" is Wednesday's theme. Students are encouraged to wear their favorite uniform or team jersey.
The theme for Thursday is "Hairs to a drug-free life." Students are to express themselves with a wacky hairdo or hat and then "head" to the school lobby and register their vote for middle school students' favorite activity to do instead of drugs.
Friday is "School spirit/pep rally day." All students are asked to wear the school colors of maroon and white. According to Michael DeAngelo, middle school assistant principal, a "special guest" is scheduled to join in the afternoon pep rally.
Daily themes will also be emphasized at each of the elementary schools.
On Monday, students are encouraged to wear sweat pants and sweatshirts because "Living drug-free is no sweat."
All are asked to wear boots on Tuesday to help "Kick it to drugs."
Students will "Team up against drugs" on Wednesday by wearing their favorite team shirts.
The theme for Thursday is "You don't slip up to drugs" by wearing slippers.
Red Ribbon Week wraps up on Friday with "Crazy day." Students will wear their Halloween costumes in the afternoon to "Scare away drugs."
In addition to the daily themes, elementary students will create a "Chain of Promise." According to Elementary Guidance Counselors Jim Blakeslee and Deb McKain, the paper chain signifies that each classroom will be making a promise to "Make healthy choices in life no bullying and no drugs." The chains will then be displayed in the hallways as one "giant promise."
Third and fourth grade students will also participate in a poster contest with the same "healthy choices" theme. The posters will be judged and prizes awarded.
Red Ribbon Ambassadors have been selected to assist in the Red Ribbon Week activities. They include:
East Penn Elementary School Rylie Bryfogle and Alaina Strohl;
Franklin Elementary School Madison Brown, Richie Failla, Jaiden Muffley, Sherry Nametko, Dakota Stadtmueller, and Carter Strauss;
Mahoning Elementary School Trey Gower, Callie Hayman, and Elijah House;
Shull-David Elementary School Laurel Charron, Andrew Danilovitz, Jayla Knight, Aaron Miller, Kathryn Nanovic, and Benjamin Zacharias;
Lehighton Area Middle School Dante Arzuaga, Tia Brownmiller, Lucas Hoffner, and Kyle Strohl.
Students throughout the district will also receive special bracelets to wear for the week to signify their support of Red Ribbon Week. The bracelets have been donated by Lisa Shiffert. Along with family and friends, Shiffert coordinates the annual Cody Wentz Walk/Bike Ride in Weissport.
This event is designed to bring community awareness to the problem of drug and alcohol abuse. It is held in memory of Shiffert's son, Cody Wentz, who died from a drug overdose on November 29, 2010. He was 19 years old.
In addition to all of these activities, LASD will host "Operation Saturation" on Tuesday, Oct. 23. Andrews and other WVADS drug and alcohol prevention/education specialists will conduct interactive educational activities for all students in grades K through 12. Each session will carry strong anti-drug and anti-bullying messages.
A community program will also be held in the evening beginning at 7 p.m. at the high school auditorium. Three adolescent counselors will present their life-changing experiences that were caused by their choices relating to drugs and alcohol. All interested community members are invited and encouraged to attend.
For more information about LASD and Red Ribbon Week activities, visit www.Lehighton.org.
Additional information about the National Red Ribbon Campaign can be found at www.RedRibbon.org.