Oh, the places we’ll go and potential we’ll reach without drugs!

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Oh, the places we’ll go and potential we’ll reach without drugs! Oh, the things we’ll get to know when we wisely choose to let our teachers teach us!

Driving by your local elementary school, have you noticed schoolyard fences decorated with red ribbons and posters, and school trees have red bows wrapped around them?  This time each year, students and teachers celebrate Red Ribbon Week. Classroom doors are wrapped in butcher paper and sport various titles and decorations that students and their teachers have collaboratively decided on:  Our Goal is to be Drug Free (imagine footballs with the faces of students); Hands Off Drugs (handprints with student names);  Defeat the Evil Minions (good vs. bad guys: peer pressure, drugs, tobacco, alcohol); Drugs just spook us (ghosts); We choose to stomp out drugs (footprints); Get High on Music – not on Drugs (instruments that students designed); Use your Science Knowledge to stay healthy (weather science lesson showing high and low pressure principles); ( Shattered Dreams: Drugs end all dreams (R.I.P. signs with famous people’s names), and other ingenious themes. As you can tell by the titles, some ideas incorporate other disciplines besides the direct message against drugs. Some tie in with literacy, science, music, health and safety, etc.  Teachers are good at this: linking seasonal themes into the disciplines they are expected to teach. More and more, with the time crunch and testing accountability required, this strategy becomes almost a necessity. These themed decorations were spotted at Dysinger Elementary School in Centralia District in Orange County, CA.

Mrs. Ocampo (600x800)One of the themes with the closest direct links in the area of literacy was the one titled: Oh, the Places We’ll Go without drugs! (pictured here with yours truly). The student photos showed comments about their career goals in speech bubbles next to their faces. Surely you’ve heard of the Dr. Seuss book of the same title.  As Theodore Geisel wisely wrote in his book, Oh, the places you’ll go:  “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go. You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care. About some you will say, ‘I don’t choose to go there.’ With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.  And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town.”   Here’s an animated retelling of the story via U-Tube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQRWeZy-S8Q

How did Red Ribbon Week begin? Most school-age students have heard the name Enrique Camarena, who sacrificed his life while on duty as a Drug Enforcement agent in Mexico in 1985.  As a result, parents and young people started wearing red ribbons to raise awareness of the deaths and destruction caused by drugs. Mrs. Peggy Sapp, along with six volunteers, formed the National Family Partnership, a network of parenting organizations, with the goal of  “Helping kids grow up safe, healthy and drug-free.” Mrs. Sapp developed the Red Ribbon Campaign into an annual national event that is a major force for raising awareness and mobilizing communities in the fight against drugs.  The first National Red Ribbon Celebrations took place in 1988.  http://redribbon.org/about/

So think about how YOU can encourage the young people you come in contact with to replace drugs with a desire to learn. That way they can reach their full potential!

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