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Important Message Delivered In A Bottle
Each student at Adelante High School was given a green bottle with letters in them regarding drug addiction in a project to promote being drug free during Red Ribbon Week. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Throughout the Riverbank Unified School District teachers, staff, and students participated in activities last week to promote a drug free environment and support the Red Ribbon Week 2016 campaign.

Adelante High School’s leadership class had a finale planned for the students with the “Message in a Bottle” presentation to end a successful Red Ribbon Week.

Leadership students Victor Gomez and student body president Victoria Meza presented Kristi Santos’s history class with a green bottle that had letters and a pencil inside for the presentation.

“This is Adelante’s gift to you for Red Ribbon Week hoping that you will internalize the message that is in this bottle,” said Santos. “We can learn from some of these letters that we are getting as we promote them to you in hopes that they will save you from making the wrong choices.”

The idea they shared with their fellow students is that if they were stuck on an island they could send a message in a bottle out to sea for help. They used that as an example to students that may be suffering from addiction.

“What we at student leadership are doing is sending out a message in a bottle to you not to be in the situation that other people have been in,” said Gomez. “So our first example of a person that was like this was Stephen King.”

Gomez explained that in the 1980s King was at the height of his career and had written ‘The Shining’ and ‘Carrie’ but he was also at the height of his crippling addiction. Although he had all this fame, King was said to be angry and depressed, smoking cigarettes, drinking an excess of alcohol, and using cocaine. Eventually King got clean and in 2010 he wrote a letter to his 16-year-old self about his addiction along with advice he wish he had received.

Students volunteered to read the letters from King, Curt Schilling, and a letter from a drug addict that were shared with the entire class and discussed.

Schilling was a Major League baseball player that developed a dipping addiction during his career. His letter was very graphic regarding the consequences of chewing tobacco like sores, lesions, and rotten gums as well as mouth cancer.

Students shared stories about family members or people that they know that have addiction problems.

“Set goals for yourself and make a great life,” stated Santos. “Goals don’t have to be the giant goals, goals can be small. Have you ever heard the expression, ‘inch by inch life’s a cinch. Yard by yard life is hard.’ That is the philosophy you want to keep in mind. You just want to take it one day at a time with your goals.”

Meza expressed that she became Student Body President to make a difference and would like to see drug counseling or a better therapy system for students that may have substance abuse problems.

“This (high school) is a lot of pressure,” stated Meza of Adelante. “This is make it or break it time. We do have a lot more pressure on ourselves because this is our final chance. I am hoping to have a lot of successful people come from this school and to fight the stigma.

“This is not a place for bad kids. It is just a place for people that might have made some bad choices along the way.”

With plans to attend college and to move on from AHS, Meza still wants to make a difference while she is a student there.

“I do believe this is helpful, it is bringing more awareness it is bringing more information and hopefully I gave them more resources to get help,” added Meza.

The Leadership class assembled about 60 bottles for all the students at AHS and other classes had guest speakers for their finale.

Each morning during the month of October the announcements included an anti-substance abuse tip and the students participated in games for Red Ribbon Week.

Santos explained that students in an English class were asked to write a response to the presentation. Some students wrote that they had never stopped to think just how much a person could lose by getting addicted.

“I was pleased by the leadership shown in seeing this project through,” expressed Santos. “When students are given an opportunity to speak about what they know, it opens doors for educators to add useful information regarding substance abuse. When students have buy in, learning becomes more intrinsic.”