Spirit Week and Red Ribbon Week Collide


Mr. Crisafi

From left to right: Mrs. Benvenutto, Chester Coles, Maggie Smith, Emerson Ferry, and JP Walsh read about the importance of Red Ribbon Week.

Vaping, Star Wars, and football games. How do all of these fit together, you may ask? They don’t. But for The Benjamin School, the week of October 21 was both Red Ribbon Week and Spirit Week. Throughout the week, there were several activities pertaining to both, such as creating an advisory hashtag and dressing up in fun outfits. 

The hashtag activity was created by Student Services Counselor Ms. Danielle Benvunuto, who also oversees Red Ribbon Week each year. This year, each advisory decided on a hashtag that promotes the healthy drug and alcohol-free life Red Ribbon Week encourages. Benvenuto then came around to each advisory group with a large mock Instagram frame upon which she wrote the slogan of the advisory and took the students’ photo within the frame. 

Mr. Crisafi
Eighth-grader Addie Vining dresses up as a wizard for Harry Potter day.

“I remember I wanted to do something that students gave input [on] and [that also] gave the Red Ribbon Week message,” said Benvenuto. “I think it just came to me, I don’t know where I saw the hashtag, but it came to me and I wanted an important Red Ribbon Week message.” 

Benvenuto, though, had a lot of help in this endeavor. The mock Instagram frame was created so that each advisory could take their picture with it, their hashtag as the caption.

“Mr. Maddox definitely got credit for the hashtag sign,” said Benvenuto. “[Director of Marketing] Mrs. Jessie Padon ordered the hashtag sign for us and got it made for us.” 

The winning hashtag was from Mr. Winters’ seventh-grade advisory group, who came up with “#avoidthepressure.” Other hashtags included “#noplaceforvape,” “#weedbebetterwithoutit,” and “#juulisnotcuul.”

“We had actually two or three [slogans] that I think would have been good ones, but then we voted on which one we liked best,” said strings and musical theater teacher Mr. Andrew Winters.

Red Ribbon Week focuses on the dangers of underage drinking, smoking, e-cigarettes, and drugs. One of the many ways the school spread awareness about these dangerous habits was by having a wrecked red Nissan Maxima 3.5 SE showcased in the Blue Dot parking lot. Nissan was involved in an accident that was the result of drinking and driving.

“That’s a symbol of, it’s a nonexample, if you will, of living a healthy life and making healthy choices,” said Head of Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy. 

On Monday during assembly, the new student council officers were asked to read a few paragraphs about the meaning of Red Ribbon Week. 

These paragraphs consisted of a pledge against the use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, alcohol, and other illegal drugs. In addition, the following night was Family Dinner Night where TBS families were encouraged to speak to their children about the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse.

Simultaneously, it was also Spirit Week which consisted of Team Jersey Day, Red Shirt Day, Harry Potter vs. Star Wars/Denim Day, and Orange and Blue Day. As is tradition, it was held to build school spirit leading up to the homecoming football game on October 25 at the Upper School, a contest the Bucs won easily 49-14.

Dean of Students, Jeffery Cavallo views the car crash as a lesson not to drink and drive.

“Spirit Week is designed to raise school spirit and promote gratitude for what we have here at School, give us a sense of belonging and togetherness,” said Hagy. “It’s a real celebration of us taking care of each other and being with one another.” 

“I dressed up for all of [the spirit days],” said eighth-grader Addie Vining. “For Team Jersey Day, I wore a Red Sox jersey. For Red Shirt Day, I wore a redshirt. For Harry Potter/Star Wars Day I wore a Hogwarts robe, and for Friday I wore my school shirt.”

Though some wore spirit day attire throughout the week, others felt more diverse themes would have encouraged more students to join in on the fun.

 “I think it would have been even more fun to have more creative [spirit days] throughout the week,” said new eighth-grade science teacher Mrs. Cheryl Bell, “and to have separate themes for each grade level. And I think that if there was some kind of points to be gained from it and competition, either orange or blue points or competition at the end of spirit week for pizza or ice cream or something for the winning class or advisory, that would’ve been cool.”

There was also debate some debate as to whether Spirit and Red Ribbon Week were both celebrated to their fullest, as they took place during the same week.

“I don’t think it was a good idea having them in the same week because they took away from each other,” said Vining. “Red Ribbon took away from Homecoming and vice versa.” 

“Red Ribbon Week is a really serious thing, and Spirit Week is kind of a fun, uplifting thing, so it almost feels like they should be [separate weeks] so that we can be a little more solemn during Red Ribbon Week, and a little more introspective, then a little more fun and silly during Spirit Week,” said Bell.

However, others saw the two entities as complementary.

“I thought it worked out well,” said Winters. “I don’t think it detracted from Red Ribbon Week to have Spirit Week, in my opinion.” 

“I think that it’s a perfect union, if you will.” said Hagy, “so I think part of that coming together and being together is [through the] advisory hashtag activity, where we’re not only celebrating coming together as a Benjamin school community, but we’re celebrating coming together as a drug free, alcohol free, healthy Benjamin School community.”