By Beverly Cockrell
CORRIGAN – "Your future is key, so stay drug free" is this year's Red Ribbon Week Theme. Each year, the last week of October is dedicated to bring attention to the nation's leading drug abuse awareness and prevention program: Red Ribbon. Schools across our nation create events and activities on their campuses and pledge to live drug-free and honor the memory of slain DEA Agent, Enrique "Kiki" Camarena. Camarena, a federal Drug Enforcement Administration officer, was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in 1985 by Mexican drug traffickers. Deeply offended, incensed parents and youth nationwide wore red ribbons in memory of Camerena and as a show of unity to fight against the drug war that was sweeping our world. This act ignited a nationwide show of commitment to raise awareness of the deadly destruction caused by drugs as well as to honor the memory of Agent Camarena. In 1988, the National Family Partnership sponsored the first official national Red Ribbon Campaign Celebration.
How and why did Red Ribbon Week Get Started?
According to its website, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) offers a fact sheet shedding light on how the beginnings of this campaign.
"Special Agent Camarena was an 11-year DEA veteran assigned to the Guadalajara, Mexico, office, where he was on the trail of the country's biggest marijuana and cocaine traffickers. In 1985, he was extremely close to unlocking a multi-billion dollar drug pipeline. On February 7, 1985, he was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by Mexican drug traffickers. His tragic death opened the eyes of many Americans to the dangers of drugs and the international scope of the drug trade.
Shortly after Kiki's death, Congressman Duncan Hunter and Kiki's high school friend Henry Lozano launched "Camarena Clubs" in Kiki's hometown of Calexico, California. Hundreds of club members pledged to lead drug-free lives to honor the sacrifice made by Kiki Camarena. These pledges were delivered to (then) First Lady Nancy Reagan at a national conference of parents combating youth drug use. Several state parent organizations then called on community groups to wear red ribbons during the last week of October as a symbol of their drug-free commitment. The first Red Ribbon Week celebrations were held in La Mirada and Norwalk, California.
In 1988, the National Family Partnership coordinated the first National Red Ribbon Week, with President and Mrs. Reagan serving as honorary chairpersons." (www.dea.gov/redribbon).
A DEA press release further states in part that the citizens from Canarena's hometown "began wearing red ribbons to remember him and commemorate his sacrifice. The first official Red Ribbon Week celebration was created by the National Family Partnership (NFP) in 1988. NFP continues to coordinate the campaign for families, schools and communities across the nation each year. Red Ribbon Week gives us the opportunity to be vocal and visible in our efforts to achieve a drug-free community. Research shows that children are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs when parents and other role models are clear and consistent in their opposition to substance use and abuse." (www.dea.gov/redribbon).
What We're Doing Here at Home
The primary focus of this campaign is to get the message out to our children. Locally, all C-CISD campuses commemorate Red Ribbon Week with special dress code themes for every day of this week as well as other contests and activities.
Amy Kilgore, Corrigan-Camden Elementary Counselor, shared the following special dress codes and activities planned for the elementary campus this week and next week:
Monday, Oct. 23 – We are RED-Y and CAN be Drug Free (Wear red)
Tuesday, Oct.24– Rocking a Drug Free Life (Dress like a rock star)
Wednesday, Oct. 25 –Don't let Drugs Drive You Crazy (Wear crazy socks, crazy hair, etc.)
Thursday, Oct.26 – I'm a JEAN-IUS (wear denim)
Friday, Oct 27 – Pink Out Day for Cancer Awareness Month and the Red Rally
Tuesday, October 31 Students may wear Halloween Costumes (no masks)
Wednesday, November 1-Leo the Lion Drug Free Pep Rally
(Pre-K-2) 9:00 (3-5) 9:30
As well, the elementary campus is asking for donations of can goods or other non-perishable items now through Wednesday, November 8. These items will be donated to the Corrigan Community Resource Center for those in need during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Corrigan-Camden Junior High Assistant Principal Tina Slaten also shared what's going on at the junior high. The C-C Junior High Gifted and Talented students created the themes for this week. They are:
Monday Wear Red Just Say NO to Drugs
Tuesday Dress Like a Rock Star Rocking a Drug Free Life
Wednesday Wear Crazy Hair, Socks ...etc Don't end up Crazy ... Sock it to Drugs
Thursday Wear Jeans/Boots Jean-ius wear jeans and Boot out Drugs
Friday Wear Pink Pink for the Cause
Slaten stated, "Any junior high student who dresses up each day gets a prize at the end of the week (homework pass, bathroom pass, snack bar passes...etc.). Classroom doors are decorated and will be judged on Friday. Students will be coloring ribbons to hang-up in the cafeteria, pledging that they are and will stay drug-free."
Corrigan-Camden High School is also recognizing Red Ribbon Week with a special dress code for the week. The C-CHS Student Council, along with sponsor Eliza Watts, came up with the following:
Monday – Color your world drug free! Wear Red!
Tuesday – Texans give drugs the boot! Wear your western wear!
Wednesday – Twinsday! Friends don't let friends do drugs! Twin day!
Thursday - Tacky Tourist Thursday! Wherever you go, just say no! Dress like a tourist!
Friday – Bulldogs team up against drugs. Pink Out Game!
Visit GetSmartAboutDrugs.com for more information about Red Ribbon Week.