The Linden Public Schools recognized Red Ribbon Week throughout the district from Oct. 23 to 27, with programs and events aimed at teaching students to avoid substance abuse.
Red Ribbon Week is a nationwide effort to raise awareness about drugs and to prevent drug abuse in children and young adults.
“Red Ribbon Week is an awareness campaign celebrated throughout our schools and communities to encourage students to make safe and healthy choices,” said Annabell Louis, supervisor of student services. “Embracing a proactive approach and sending early messages to our students about safe and healthy choices is of great importance to me. Red Ribbon Week serves as a catalyst to begin these conversations early and commit to a collective effort to helping our youth grow up drug-free.”
The school district’s efforts are sponsored by the Linden Municipal Alliance, which supplies ribbons, pencils, decorations, bookmarks, stickers, books and other materials for the week’s efforts. Funding is provided by the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse through the Union County Department of Human Services, Division of Planning.
At School No. 1, students attended a program with Kathleen Volker, the district’s student assistance counselor, who taught about the different types of drugs and the dangers of substance abuse. She also handed out pencils and stickers, and the students signed a large poster pledging to be drug free. Lt. Abdul Williams and Officer David Nolasco of the Linden Police Department’s Juvenile Bureau also attended, speaking to the students about bullying and safety. They gave out pencils and activity books.
School No. 2 had themes throughout the week, including wearing crazy hats or wacky hair to “use your head, don’t do drugs,” and wearing wacky socks to “sock it to drugs.”
At School No. 4, students gathered on the school’s back lawn to form a large, human red ribbon, standing united against drugs and substance abuse. (See photo above.) The front of the school was also decorated with flags and ribbons.
At School No. 5, the week was celebrated with red ribbons on the doorknobs of the classrooms, and students received pencils, badges and ribbons. Each morning an announcement was read about Red Ribbon Week: “Our hands were made for many chores, for increasing the peace not making wars. To pat and applaud and hug those we love, never to hit, punch or to shove. To clap for a friend, or earn money to spend, to join with others in a circle of friends.”
School No. 6 marked each day of the week with a different theme, including wear red, wearing a hat to “put a cap on drugs,” wearing a team shirt to “team up” against drugs, and signing a pledge to be drug free.
At School No. 8, students and staff wore pajamas to school one day. The message of the day was to “put drugs to sleep.”
At School No. 9, students tied a red ribbon around a tree in front of the school.
School No. 10 students marked each day with a different theme, including wearing red, wearing a team shirt to “team up” to make smart choices, wearing pajamas to “follow your dreams,” and wearing a super hero shirt to show they are drug free.
McManus Middle School had a visit from the Union County Sheriff’s K-9 unit to demonstrate how police dogs can sniff out people and illegal drugs.
Soehl Middle School held Put a Cap on Drugs Day, when students and staff wore their favorite hats in support of staying drug free. Principal Richard Molinaro wore a Mickey Mouse-style hat that looked like R2D2 of “Star Wars.”
Members of Linden High School’s student council will be in the cafeteria during lunches next week to have students sign a poster making a drug-free pledge and to hand out informational pamphlets.
Students at the Academy of Excellence alternative high school signed individual drug-free pledges, which were put on display in the school.