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Jefferson County Schools: Students See Red When It Comes to Drugs
Rally draws 200 students
By Trish Wallace |
Suburban County Journal |
Wednesday, October 8, 2008 9:09 AM CDT
A Red Ribbon Rally in Pevely last week gave select students from 22 local schools a break from their classes, encouraging them to take a drug-free stand in their schools.
Nearly 200 sixth through eighth grade students attended Friday's rally at Victory Church in Pevely and planned events for Red Ribbon Week at their schools at the end of October. The event included learning sessions, activity planning, a video and free prizes.
Jenny Otto, Eastern Regional Support Center coordinator for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA), said the organization plans three rallies every year. This year, the NCADA scheduled the Jefferson County rally last, but it had the largest attendance.
"We try to make it fun and teach them a lot at the same time," Otto said.
Students from each school had the opportunity to participate in three of eight informational sessions. Topics of the sessions included prescription medication, energy drinks and alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, music literacy, methamphetamine and confronting an abusing friend.
Another session taught students how various drugs and alcohol affect specific organs in the body. Leaders brought real organs to the training, and students were allowed to put on gloves and touch the organs.
Five active participants from the Turning Resources and Energy in New Directions (TREND) group at Festus Middle School attended the rally. One of the group's faculty sponsors, Brittany Schwartz, said her students really enjoyed the opportunity to touch the organs.
Each session lasted for 35 minutes.
After the third session, students gathered as one large group where they learned the history of Red Ribbon Week and discussed its significance for their classmates. Students received an activity planning guide and had time to take charge of the Red Ribbon Week effort at their own schools.
"We really empower the youth to do that," Otto said.
After a break for lunch, students were treated to a presentation from Motivational Media Assemblies. The presentation uses movie clips from major blockbusters, messages from celebrities and popular music to encourage students to remain drug free and inspire them to use their leadership skills positively.
According to Schwartz, the Festus Middle School students enjoyed the presentation but found the opportunity to meet students from other schools to be especially encouraging.
"It not only got them pumped up, but they got ideas from other schools," Schwartz said. "They were really creative."
Though they don't know yet if it will be approved by administration, the Festus group developed an idea for a superhero spirit day during the middle school's Red Ribbon Week so they can "save kids from drugs."
As the students and sponsors left to return to their schools, they received small gifts, including a packet of red tulip bulbs so students can plant Drug-Free Gardens on campus. Otto hopes teachers and sponsors take advantage of the bulbs.
Schwartz said her students will try to plant the bulbs this week.
"That way we can always remember that that was a special day," Schwartz said about the tulips and the rally.
The rallies are completely free for participating schools. Funding is provided by a Cardinals Care grant of $3,500. According to Otto, the rallies started in 1986, but began as they are today, including an educational and entertainment component, in 2004. Each year more schools participate in the events.
Representatives from Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU), the Jefferson County Health Department and BJC assisted with the informational sessions.
The Festus McDonald's provided cheeseburgers for lunch for the students. The NCADA provided chips, applesauce and soda.