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Area students celebrate
Red Ribbon Week    
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[OCT. 27, 2004]  All too often young people get bad reputations for their involvement in drug and alcohol abuse, but youth who support drug and alcohol prevention within the community are not always given credit for their positive influence. This week provides a special opportunity to change the pattern. Many area students are participating in the nationwide Red Ribbon Week campaign, promoting a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

On Thursday and Friday, students who attend Olympia West Elementary School in Armington, Hopedale and Minier will walk in three Red Ribbon Week parades, making sure their neighbors know they are committed to living a healthy, drug-free life.

Olympia students will go to Armington on Thursday for a 9 a.m. parade from the park at Minier and Armington roads, through the downtown, and back to the park.

On Friday morning a parade will step off at 10 at the Hopedale Village Hall and return there after going past Hopedale Commons. The Friday afternoon parade will be in Minier, beginning at the school at 12:45 and returning to the school.

Citizens and merchants are encouraged to line the parade routes and cheer on the students.

Other Red Ribbon Week activities on the schedule at Olympia West are wearing clothes backward for Turn Your Back on Drugs Day, trying out goggles that simulate intoxication, planting red bulbs in the school garden, wearing silly socks for Sock it to Drugs Day, taking red tulip bulbs home to plant for a spring reminder of drug-free living, making banners, and a closing program with a quiz and a chance to dunk the principal and other staff members.

In addition, the "Share a Pair" shoe collection has been going on in Armington, Hopedale and Minier since Oct. 10. Citizens of all three towns have a goal of collecting over 1,300 pairs of shoes for an educational display representing the number of people who die from drug usage. The shoes will be shared with area charities later.

New and used shoes may be dropped off at Olympia West, Minier and Hopedale banks and grocery stores and at Armington, Hopedale and Minier churches. For more information, call Carolyn Hansen at 392-1700.

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Minier Police Chief Daryl Weseloh is coordinating the Olympia West activities with assistance from representatives of each of the communities.

In Springfield, Sacred Heart-Griffin students are also participating in the annual Red Ribbon Week. Students dressed in red on Tuesday to show their support of drug and alcohol prevention. They were encouraged to "tie one on against drugs" by wearing ties Wednesday.

On Thursday, fifty students will dress in black to represent the number of people who die each day in drunk driving crashes; 200 hundred crosses will be placed on school windows to represent the number of teens who died in alcohol-related crashes each month last year; and one large cross will be placed in the courtyard in memory of the 2,395 teens killed in alcohol-related crashes last year. Students and faculty will also wear yellow ribbons to support suicide prevention awareness.

The weeklong observance at SHG also includes slogan contests and a safety talk by the Springfield City Police Department.

Red Ribbon Week began in 1985 in memory of undercover Special Agent Enrique Camarena of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who was killed by drug traffickers in Mexico. Friends and neighbors rallied to support drug and alcohol awareness, pledged to lead drug-free lives to honor the sacrifices made by Camarena and others, and wore red satin ribbons in his memory. From these groups emerged the national campaign known as Red Ribbon Week.

[From news releases provided by the Minier Police Department and Sacred-Heart Griffin]

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