Middle School Recognizes Red Ribbon Week


Chase Malamala

TBS put red ribbons all throughout campus to commemorate Red Ribbon Week.

Has someone ever asked you to do something you didn’t want to do? Maybe someone could have asked you to try drugs. Red Ribbon Week, which was held at TBS the week of October 22, is all about finding the courage inside yourself to abstain from dangerous substances such as drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. It is also a week dedicated to teaching students about the dangers of drug abuse.

Red Ribbon week was started in 1988 after the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped and killed by a Mexican drug cartel. There was an immediate outrage across the United States, and people started to dedicate this whole week to him and his cause to stop the importation and use of illegal narcotics. They called it the Red Ribbon week.  

“They tied red ribbons around the community in his honor and memory,” said Head of Student Services, Ms. Danielle Benvenuto, who organizes Red Ribbon Week for the Lower/Middle School Campus each year. Parent and student volunteers do the same at TBS, tying red ribbons all over campus.

“We underestimate how dangerous the abuse of products are, so it is important to talk about it not just once a year, but throughout the year so that people can realize how bad [drugs] really are to prevent any sort of addiction,” said Benvenuto.  

“Learning about drugs is pivotal to making the future generations safe and happy,” said eighth-grader Sean Collins.

Benvenuto and the Middle School administration also encouraged students to have dinner with their families on the evening of Tuesday, October 23 to discuss the dangers and effects of drug and alcohol use.

“I went and talked a little with my family about how quickly drugs can invade someone’s life,” said seventh-grader Robert Letsche.

Some students even came up with a system with their parents and use code words if they are somewhere where drugs or alcohol are present.

“I made a code word with my parents which is ‘N.P.U.’ This means ‘need to pick up’ and they know whenever I send this that I need them to come to get me without asking any questions,” said Collins.  

According to a recent study published by www.teens.drugabuse.gov, of the more than 46,000 American teens surveyed – eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders to be exact – 13% of eighth graders, 30% of tenth graders, and 40% of twelfth graders say they have used drugs at least once in the past year.

In addition, there have also been issues with teens vaping (e-cigarettes). According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, when it comes to vaping, 3.6% of eighth graders participate, 6.3% of tenth graders, and 11.4% of twelfth graders.

This is dangerous because, according to www.theverge.com, a single Juul pod contains 5% nicotine, which is equal to the amount of nicotine in a whole pack of cigarettes. When someone purchases a pack of Juul pods, there are four to a pack. This means that users are buying the same amount of nicotine as four packs of cigarettes.

Recently, Juul sales have skyrocketed nearly 800 percent, and the company that produces the e-cigarettes, Juul Labs, is worth an estimated $16 billion dollars according to www.bloomberg.com. This gain in sales has come mainly from the teens using this product. The New York Times recently reported that the FDA has decided to set a ban on flavored pods because teens are so addicted to vaping because of the various flavors. This may ruin Juul sales, but could also curb teens’ habits of using the nicotine-infused pods. “It is interesting because a whole business [may be] getting destroyed but it is helping people at the same time quit,” said seventh-grader Julian Janin.

To kick off Red Ribbon Week this year, middle school students were shown a moving public service announcement about vaping during morning assembly on Monday, October 22. The video was recently made by a student at another school and featured real testimonies from his friends and how all of them are addicted to juuling.

“This little movie shows just how quickly Juul can take over an entire friend group,” said Letsche. “It is really sad how a whole group of friends can turn from such good people to completely different people from just one tiny little device.”

In addition, Benvenuto provided each middle school advisory group with pledges to sign that promised they would abstain from drugs, alcohol, and e-cigarettes. Students were also given Red Ribbon Week pencils and provided with facts about drugs each day in announcements.

Benvenuto and Director of Student Services Mrs. Susan Poncy also engage students about drug and alcohol use in their middle school skills classes. “Everything related to drugs, tobacco, alcohol, selling and buying,” said Benvenuto, referring to what she discusses with the seventh and eighth graders.