Parkway South Middle School recently celebrated Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon Week is a national celebration to bring school and community together to show our commitment to living a drug-free life. Red Ribbon Week began in 1985, with the backing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan, when Kiki Camarena, a drug enforcement agent, was murdered in the line of duty in Mexico City. After his death, people began to display and wear red ribbons to demonstrate a commitment to living a drug-free lifestyle and to honor Officer Camarena.
During the week, each student and staff member received a red ribbon to celebrate a drug-free lifestyle and were encouraged to participate in the themed days, which included:
· “Wear red day.”
· “Drugs and tobacco make you wacko.” Wear crazy clothes/colors.
· “Put a sock in it -- don’t do drugs.” Wear crazy socks.
· “Don’t get tied up with drugs.” Wear tie-dye and/or a tie or scarf.
· “Team up against drugs.” Wear a team jersey or sport shirt.
Each year, physical and health education teacher (and South Middle's teacher of the year for the 2011-12 school year) Mrs. Teresa Politte selects between 10 and 15 eighth grade students to be her Red Ribbon Leaders (RRL). Together, they plan and execute the week's activities to educate and celebrate being drug-free. This year the students selected were: Tess Borders, Kristen Bourbon, Nathan Dickens, Nick Eldridge, Tyla Garrett, Braxton McGee, Zach Mueller, Blair Morgner, Fernando Navas, Ellie Schmelzle. Joe Schnapp, Claire Sharp, Grace Sivcovich, Sarah Sodoma and Emma Weatherford. In addition to the themed days, students were encouraged to answer a fact about drugs and alcohol use during their lunch periods. The RRL decorated the cafeteria windows and made a prominent sign that was visible along Highway 141 to take a stand against drugs.
Mrs. Politte selects students who either show an interest or a passion for staying drug free and who possess leadership qualities. "Their passion and leadership qualities come across during Health class.", Politte explained. The greater St. Louis area is experiencing heroin use in epidemic proportions. "This is a topic saturating the media, but it is a conversation we need to keep having. Burying our heads and pretending it isn't happening in West County is not doing anything to stop the drug-use. The more education for parents and students, the better." she adds.
The selected RRL's are equally passionate about the topic. Joe Schnapp said, "The drug awareness units (in 6th, 7th and 8th grades) have broadened my awareness. I would like to be a Drug Enforcement Agent."
Grace Sivcovich observes, "Drug use seems to shorten your life and no one deserves to have their lives shortened."
From personal experiences, Braxton McGee feels a strong connection to prevent and stop smoking. "I have asthma and cigarette smoke bothers it. When you have someone in your life who chooses to smoke, it affects more than just them. I'm affected too."
Ellie Schmelzle also observes the importance of drug education. "Some people in my neighborhood have done drugs and I feel it's important to take care of myself."