Red ribbons are showing up in classrooms, on lapels and wrapped around lollipops. They're tied on car radio antennae, painted on posters and mentioned in essays.
It's Red Ribbon Week, and students are taking _ and giving _ notice.
The red ribbon became a symbol for a drug-free society in 1985 after Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena was tortured and murdered by drug traffickers. This year, Oct. 23-28 has been designated by state educators as a time to promote substance abuse awareness and drug-free schools.
Programs, initiated by Pinellas County teachers and student organizations, are delivering the message in a variety of ways.
Members of Students Against Driving Drunk S.A.D.D. have been working overtime preparing for the week.
At Northeast High School in St. Petersburg, they've planned programs and invited speakers including a sports medicine surgeon, a criminal lawyer, a drug enforcement agent and some martial arts students.
Students also are selling "Safe-Grams," Halloween greeting cards attached to lollipops that carry the message: "Use your head! Say NO to alcohol and drugs!"
S.A.D.D. members at Lakewood High will wear red one day and pass out red ribbons to staff members. They'll also tie red ribbons on car antennae, talk about substance abuse awareness on Fast Forward, the school's in-house television program, and initiate "Dead Day" activities in which members for a day dress in black, paint their faces white and pretend to be dead victims of drug abuse. Five pupils at Curlew Creek Elementary in Palm Harbor, winners of a Student Council-sponsored essay contest, are getting the message to their classmates. Their essays on "Why I Want to Be Drug Free" are being read over the intercom during morning announcements.
Pupils at Bauder Elementary in Seminole are involved in a bumper sticker design competition.
"The winning design will be used on real bumper stickers and distributed to all 800 Bauder pupils," principal Carol Thomas said.
At Fairmount Park Elementary in St. Petersburg, teachers and pupils will dress in red one day this week. They also plan to decorate the outside of the school with red ribbons as reminders to parents and neighbors.
Also in St. Petersburg, Shore Acres Elementary fifth-graders are featured in a public safety video titled Healthy Means Drug Free, which will air on Channel 15.
A poster contest at Campbell Park Elementary in St. Petersburg will emphasize anti-drug slogans, and guidance counselor Mary Murph is working to get a grant to repair a four-by-eight wooden sign in front of the school where anti-drug messages are displayed.
Winning the drug war
These Curlew Creek Elementary School pupils took top honors in an essay contest on drug-abuse awareness.
"I am drug-free now and I always will be. My great teachers and parents through all these years have taught me to say no! I hope you can follow my drug-free life. Remember, once you start...it's hard to stop."
_ Alison Sheasley, Fifth Place
"I don't want to be stupid," he wrote. "I want to get good grades so I can . . . go to the University of Kentucky (and) live in a nice house, not on the street."
_ Shawn Luttrell, Fourth Place
"I want to be healthy, smart and have lots of friends. I've seen drunk people and they don't look healthy or smart at all."
_ Brittany Feuerherm, Third Place
"You can kill someone if you drink and drive," she wrote. "That's not a good thing to do."
_ Emerald Smart, Second Place
"I have set a goal not to use drugs and to help others with their problems," she wrote. "Drugs cut a gift, which is life, in half. Please take care of yourself, and help others understand drugs."
_ Ashley Cole, First Place