Drug-free message takes center stage
Kindergartners hold up signs Monday celebrating Red Ribbon Week at Maxwell Elementary Middle School. (Air Force photo/Kelly Deichert)
Drug-free message takes center stage



by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs


10/28/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- It's up to me to be drug free" was the message at Maxwell Elementary Middle School's Red Ribbon Week kickoff rally Monday.

Students and staff began Red Ribbon Week with a celebration featuring signs and banners. Each class had a specific cheer, and throughout the event, they yelled, "Drug free is the way to be," or "I'd rather eat bugs than do drugs." Some had a Halloween theme, such as "Doing drugs will haunt your life."

"This week is an opportunity for teachers and staff at Maxwell Elementary Middle School to stress the importance of staying drug free and maintaining a healthy lifestyle," said Becky Hill, who teaches the gifted education classes and helped organize the event. "The week is filled with fun activities to encourage students to fulfill their hopes and dreams by taking a drug-free stand."

The week continued with theme days, including "drugs are ridiculous," featuring students wearing ridiculous clothes, and "hairs to a drug free life," featuring crazy hairstyles.

The rally Monday included a visit from Reddy the Ribbon and the Alabama National Guard's Alabama Counter Drug Program. Aloys Ingram from the Drug Demand Reduction Program was the guest speaker.

"Never let anyone force you to do something you don't want to do," Ingram said, and told the children to only accept medicine from doctors.

"We're going to stay healthy and grow up to be what we want to be," she said.

The Maxwell Youth Leadership Team planned and organized the rally. Members told the story of Drug Enforcement Agency Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, who lost his life in 1985 fighting the war on drugs.

After his death, his family and fellow agents wore red ribbons in remembrance. In 1988, Red Ribbon Week was recognized nationally and is now celebrated annually on the last full week of October.

The leadership team told students to remember the sacrifice police make to keep people safe. Team members are Anthony Anderson, Tyler Brinkley, Maddie Booth, Carter Bonnell, Gracie VonHoffman, Adam Peck, Michael Boster, Olivia Anthony, Emily Beck, Jacob Barber, Rachel Zubik, Tiffany Veith, Trevor McCaffrey, Tiffany Neal and Breia Feck.

The rally also included dancing, as the middle-school students line-danced to "Cotton-Eyed Joe." The teachers told the students, "Don't break our hearts by doing drugs," by performing to "Achy Breaky Heart."

Afterward, the school marched to the arboretum and tied red ribbons around trees to mark the week