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Schools promote drug-free living during Red Ribbon Week
Students hear from speakers, watch video clips on drugs, alcohol
In observance of Red Ribbon Week, Gainesville High students view video clips showing the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

Although October may be most widely known for breast cancer awareness and the color pink, schools across Hall County also made mention of the importance of a drug-free community by donning red.

Red Ribbon Week, recognized nationally each year on the last full week of October, is the largest and oldest drug prevention program in the United States. After the death of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena at the hands of drug traffickers in Mexico, the Red Ribbon Campaign was started to draw attention to drug use within communities.

Hall County schools wasted no time coming up with creative ways to show students the importance of living drug-free.

The DEA visited third- through fifth graders at Flowery Branch Elementary School and presented the story of Red Ribbon Week along with a display including a helicopter. Two students at Sardis Enrichment School conducted their own “Did you know...” morning broadcast explaining how Red Ribbon Week came to be.

Gainesville High School has been having “Spirit” days, choosing a different color for each day, and showing short video clips during homeroom each day that address issues surrounding peer pressure.

“(The clips are) pretty edgy, but we hope they’ll get the kids to think later,” said Emily Webster, adviser to the Students Putting Extra Emphasis on Decisions group at the school.

West Hall Middle School students participated in special theme days and wore favorite hats to “put a cap on drugs” and sports jerseys to “team up against drugs.”

Special speaker Clint Fair, a former alcoholic and drug addict, talked to students about his time in prison for driving while intoxicated and the accident that claimed another life.

“This was sobering to our students to realize that the bad choices that began for Clint in eighth grade led to a series of events that landed him in jail,” said Karla Swafford, principal of West Hall Middle.

West Hall eighth-graders will join freshmen at West Hall High School today for guest speakers Eric Krug and Chris Sandy, who offer perspectives on the consequences of drugs and alcohol from the points of view of both offender and victim.

According to Terri Ryan, counselor at West Hall High, representatives from the Georgia Meth Project took pictures of students for one of the project’s ads and gave T-shirts to students.

Many schools also displayed banners for students to sign in their commitment to live drug-free lives.

“Our students seem to understand the impact of their decisions, even at this young age, on their futures,” Swafford said. “They get it that the choices they make today will influence their lives well into adulthood.”

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