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Local Students Educated During Red Ribbon Week
The students at California Avenue were allowed to get up close and view the patrol car that Riverbank Police Services brought with them for a Red Ribbon Week program. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS
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We’d rather eat bugs than do drugs says it all for this door decorated at Mesa Verde for the door decorating contest. Photo Contributed
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Cardozo Middle School student Rilee is sporting Monday’s dress day of Travel to Universal Studios Hollywood, Harry Potter Day. Photo Contributed

Red Ribbon Week was a success last week in the Riverbank Unified School District with specific dress days and activities to promote a drug free life. With a theme of “Life is your journey; travel drug free” students experienced a journey all week with the focus that drugs are bad.

Cardozo Middle School kicked off the festivities with a rally that involved students, teachers, and staff in costumes that participated in some fun and games.

“The PHASTjv (Promoting Health And Slamming Tobacco) and I worked hard to put on a fun rally,” said Melissa Werner, Special Education Teacher and PHASTjv Advisor. “It went really well.”

Along with watching a video of the dangers of drugs in first period and discussing it they also had a poster and door decorating contest. Werner’s class took first place with the Hocus Pocus themed poster, Mrs. Crane’s class took second place, and Mr. Warn’s and Mrs. Sydnor’s class tied for third. The posters and doors were judged by Leadership and PHASTjv students.

The dress days at Cardozo were as follows, Monday was Harry Potter dress day, Tuesday was Disney gear, Wednesday was beach day, Thursday was wear camo, and Friday was school colors.

“Red Ribbon Week was a huge success,” said Werner. “We had parents come and help me decorate the school with supplies that were provided by parents. In order to remind the students what Red Ribbon Week is truly about, I sent links to the teachers with videos to show their students that ranged from personal stories of drug/alcohol/tobacco use/abuse to demonstrations on the dangers of what tobacco use does to your body.”

The students wore wristbands during the week and had the opportunity to receive another wristband that said “I Pledge to be Drug Free” that they signed to show their commitment. Werner expressed that there were approximately 200 students that made the pledge.

“The kids look forward to this week because of the dress up days,” said Vanessa Martinez, Mesa Verde Elementary fifth grade teacher. “Their favorite dress up day was Nerd Day (Monday) and Disney Day (Tuesday).”

There was a door decorating competition where Ms. Devi took first place, Ms. Jessica got second place, and Mrs. Ramirez’s first grade class took third place. Each winning class will receive some sweet treats for their efforts.

“This year we had a lot more staff and student participation,” added Martinez. “They enjoyed the different dress up days and were excited to hear the daily classroom winners. The standout moments were how creative some kids got with their dress up days.”

Wednesday staff and students dressed in ‘50s attire, Thursday was ‘80s or any neon colors, and Friday wrapped up the week with school colors.

The Red Ribbon Week committee at California Avenue Elementary was Kim Nguyen, Special Day Class teacher, Torrie Montero Speech Language Pathologist, and Amber Caldwell, SDC teacher. They organized an assembly on Tuesday last week where two Riverbank Police Services Deputies brought a patrol car and motorcycle for students to check out along with some reminders to stay drug free.

“I think it (RRW) is important, it gives us a positive relationship with the kids and it teaches them that we are good and we are here to help them,” stated Deputy Matt Orr. “Ultimately we get to educate them at a young age of the dangers of using drugs, whether it be addiction, in and out of jail facilities, stealing to afford their drugs, or committing other property crimes. If we can educate these kids at a young age then maybe they won’t participate in drugs later on.”

The students were allowed to look into the patrol car and were shown where the ‘bad guys’ sit as well the radio and control panels.

“I think it is a good program, something to help educate these kids,” added Orr.

There were activities throughout the week at California Avenue including a door decorating contest which had two winners Mrs. Torres and Ms. Nguyen.

“I think the students all really liked being able to meet the police and look in the police car,” said Caldwell. “Pajama day seemed to be the standout favorite dress up day for sure, the participation was wonderful and the kids looked so cute in their PJs.”

The students received bracelets to wear during the week and participated in the various dress days as well as a chalk art activity that placed the focus on being drug free.