Maryville Junior High School celebrates Red Ribbon Week
By Matthew Stewart | matts@thedailytimes
Maryville Junior High School’s students are taking a stand against drugs.
Educators and parent volunteers organized schoolwide activities for Red Ribbon Week, the country’s oldest and largest drug prevention campaign. The campaign, which reaches more than 80 million people, is sponsored by the National Family Partnership.
School officials put together a poster and essay contest last week. They awarded $75 to first-place winners, $50 to second-place winners and $25 to third-place winners.
Organizers also coordinated a weeklong food drive. Students who brought in canned food received raffle tickets to win one of 12 prizes, ranging in value from $25 to $140. Raffle winners could select from Beats headphones, an e-book reader, four gift cards, iPod desk holder and iPod speaker dock.
Maryville Junior High School’s Parent Advisory Council raised about $800 for prizes and campaign materials, said teacher Maria Coulter. Parent volunteers manned the week’s student prize tables, as well.
The Blount County Substance Abuse Prevention Action Team also donated substance abuse awareness bracelets to school officials who distributed them to students. Educators awarded raffle tickets to students who wore the bracelets all week.
School officials also hosted student fun days on Thursday and Friday. Students could compete at a variety of stations, including corn hole, a football toss, hand ball, hula hoops, knockout, three-point shootout and wellness bingo.
Maryville Junior High School’s fun days were a community event, as Maryville High School and Maryville College students helped teachers run the stations. Maryville High School allowed between two and six students to assist educators each class period.
Educators were pleased with the week’s programming.
“It’s been our best year, so far,” Coulter said. “We’ve seen an increase in parent participation and their willingness to help out this week. They’ve also done a remarkable job raising money and helping us to get a variety of prizes. Everyone’s efforts have helped to make this a very successful year.”
She also wanted to publicly thank Rebecca Ladner, who helped start the program in the 2004-05 school year. “Rebecca continues to support this program even though she doesn’t have any children at our school. She’s our ‘super volunteer.’ You can hand anything over to her, and she’ll take care of it. We couldn’t do it without her.”
Educators and parent volunteers are honored to organize Red Ribbon Week activities, Ladner said. “If this prevents one person from doing drugs, we’ve accomplished what we set out to do. Our kids are our future. If we don’t train them well, who will take care of us? Who will be our president? Kids need this program, because they need to understand that lives are ruined by drugs. If they do drugs, they’re not going to be successful.”
Students enjoyed the week’s events and were receptive to the program’s messaging.
“Red Ribbon Week is a special week, because we don’t have a lot of school celebrations,” said ninth-grader Holly Natoli. “I really appreciate this opportunity to participate in contests and kind of relax.”
“Red Ribbon Week is a great opportunity for us,” said eighth-grader Evan Porter. “We get to play some games and hang out with friends while completing activities that stress the importance of living drug free. I look forward to it every morning.”