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School District Observing Annual Red Ribbon Week
Nutty Professor
Mrs. Dawn Thurmond participated as the Nutty Professor in a fashion show during a Red Ribbon Week rally at Cardozo Middle School on Friday. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

This week is Red Ribbon Week with this year’s theme being “YOLO. Be Drug Free.” Several schools in the Riverbank Unified School District are celebrating the week with special dress days and activities throughout the week promoting students to be drug free and bringing awareness of the death and destruction caused by drugs. The ‘YOLO’ refers to ‘You Only Live Once’ and the campaign is aiming to encourage people to live that life drug free.

Cardozo Middle School had a kick off rally inspiring students to dress a certain way each day with a fashion show presented by staff. The staff was separated into two teams, the blue team and the gold team, which represents school spirit in the school’s colors. The blue team had Christy Rathbun and Maggie Biesiadecki as Minions, Maggie Chudoba as Darth Vader, Brian Baker as Captain America, Shelly Dressel as the Nutty Professor, and Danielle Jensen as the Blue and Gold Spirit. The gold team had Aimee Felix as the Minion, Dave Howard as Darth Vader, Ralph Contreras as The Hulk, Dawn Thurmond as The Nutty Professor, and some of the Leadership students showed off their Blue and Gold Spirit for the Gold Team.

“Our leadership advisor, Melissa Werner and her class set the stage with a great rally that showcased all of the Red Ribbon Week activities,” stated Principal Kevin Bizzini. “Each year the staff fashion show gets the students excited about the week long activities and dress up days.”

Werner explained that the leadership class rally committee organized the event.

“We collaborated with our CMS Band and teacher, Mr. Dave Howard, to feature some new events in our rally, such as the CMS Blue and Gold song and the National Anthem,” stated Werner. “A lot of thought, planning, and hard work goes into these events not only by staff, but students too. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment by all parties when an event is successful.”

There were a few competitions that took place this past Friday, like the Water Bottle Flip challenge. Two tables were set up which held a competition between sixth and seventh graders and the other had eighth graders versus staff. The winners from each table faced off at a table in the center which was between the seventh and eighth graders with the eighth graders victorious in the end.

“Melissa took advantage of this new craze, the water bottle flip, that seems to be popular with teens to get students pumped at the rally,” added Bizzini. “We always hope that the weeklong focus on choosing to be drug free makes an impact on students.”

They also had a lip sync battle where a group represented each grade after trying out earlier in the week.

“I think the students did a phenomenal job. It takes a lot of courage to get out in front of your peers and perform,” said Werner. “There is some great talent at CMS and we really wanted to showcase that in this rally.”

California Avenue Elementary will be participating this week with various activities like wearing red shirts, red sweats, crazy socks, a hat, and team jerseys to name a few. They will also have presentations by the local police and fire officials.

Riverbank High School will participate in specific dress days to support Red Ribbon Week. According to Activities Director Gina Tonarelli the leadership class will be passing out red ribbon week bracelets, pencils and cards that have 100 other things to do besides drugs to all students in their second period class. During the week there will also be red ribbon week prizes such as water bottles, extra bracelets, footballs, stress balls and drug free washable tattoos.

“I do think celebrating the week brings awareness to the issues and effects of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use and abuse,” said Werner.

“As a school, we have to continually reinforce the idea every chance we get, but our Red Ribbon Week is a great way to start the conversations,” expressed Bizzini. “The leadership class put a lot of time and effort into organizing Red Ribbon Week.”