Elementary schools throughout Lehighton Area School District recently celebrated Red Ribbon Week. The weeklong event emphasizes a strong message of anti-drug, anti-alcohol abuse, and anti-bullying.

"This is the second year the elementary schools have participated in this nationwide celebration," said elementary guidance counselor Deb McKain. "This year's theme is 'A Healthy Me is Drug Free.'"

In honor of Red Ribbon Week, the schools hosted daily themes. Monday's theme was "Team up against drugs and bullying." Students, faculty, and staff were encouraged to wear their favorite team shirt or jersey. All were asked to wear boots on Tuesday to help "Give drugs the boot."

On Wednesday, they were encouraged to wear red as a sign of their "Rage against drugs." By wearing crazy hats on Thursday, the attempt was to "Scare away drugs." In order to be ready to "Run away from drugs," they were encouraged to wear sneakers on Friday.

In addition to daily themes, elementary students created a "Chain of Promise" at their respective schools. According to McKain, the paper chain signifies that each classroom has made a promise to "Make healthy choices in life no bullying and no drugs." The chains were displayed in each elementary school as "one giant promise."

Students in grades three and four also participated in a poster contest with the same theme. The posters were judged and prizes awarded.

Elementary art teacher Jessica Scholl announced fourth grader Collin Wentz as the overall building winner at East Penn Elementary School. The fourth-grade classroom winner is Hailey Miller. Tyler Solt is the overall poster contest winner for grade three. Additional third-grade classroom winners are Rachael Carr and Sydney Miller.

At Franklin Elementary School, third grader Ariana Dibuo is the overall building winner. The third-grade winner is Brynn Wentz. Additional third-grade classroom winners are Brynn Barachie, Aiden Hand and Robert Ohl. Madison Brown is the grade-four poster contest winner. In addition, Hunter Crum, Sherry Nametko, and Tate Sharrow are the fourth-grade classroom winners.

Serving as Red Ribbon Ambassadors are third- and fourth-grade students who were selected on the basis of "being a good role model." They assisted in the Red Ribbon Week activities:

East Penn Elementary School: Rachael Carr, Hailey Miller and Tyler Solt

Franklin Elementary School: Brynn Barachie, Edie Cordes, Byron DePaz, Shyhiem Ervine, Makayla Sabatino and Hunter Schaffer

Mahoning Elementary School: Ty Graver, Katherine Halenar, Adrienne Leiby and Alyssa Myers

Shull-David Elementary School: Daniel Ahner, Hunter Andreas, Kadin Brunell, Yelina Horn, Brenna Hunt and Colyn Mertz

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. Red Ribbon Week is the largest, most visible prevention awareness campaign observed annually in the United States.

Additional information about the National Red Ribbon Campaign can be found at www.RedRibbon.org.