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Rallying for drug-free living
Button Gwinnett observes Red Ribbon Week with rally
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Button Gwinnett Elementary School students and faculty participate in a rally Friday in honor of the culmination of Red Ribbon Week. - photo by Denise Etheridge

Button Gwinnett Elementary School students, along with their counterparts at other schools in the Liberty County School System, celebrated Red Ribbon Week Oct. 28-Nov. 1. Button Gwinnett was festooned from top to bottom with large and small red ribbons.

The school began its Red Ribbon observance with a balloon release and ended with a rally Friday in the school gym.

"Each year, students learn about the effects of drugs and how to continue saying ‘no’ to bad habits and ‘yes’ to living a drug-free life," guidance counselor Frednell Walthour said. "The theme for the week is, ‘My future is bright, no drugs in sight!’"

During Red Ribbon Week, students wore bright clothes Monday, dressed in their "future" professional clothes Tuesday, wore sunglasses and donated canned goods for needy families Wednesday, and wore bright and "wacky" hair Thursday.

On Friday, the whole school body gathered in the gym for speeches, music and dance.

Dr. Lafils Rivers led students in a Red Ribbon pledge to live drug-free. Then two young girls, Chelsea Paulk and Lelisea Asher, sang a song they wrote about being drug-free.

Liberty County High School football players spoke to the younger students about leadership and decision-making during the rally.

"Anything is possible if you put your mind to it," LCHS football player Jonathan Britton said.

Teammate Trentice Williams advised students to choose their friends carefully, adding they should stay busy with their school studies and with positive activities, like sports, music and dance.

Football player Jordan Waters told children "Obey your parents." And he told them he often says "good job" to himself when he does what is right or achieves a goal, and asked them to repeat and spell out, "Good job, good job."

"I found out the only person that could make me happy was me," football player Raekwon McMillan told his youngest fans. McMillan also told the grade-schoolers to "set the bar high," and then strive to achieve a goal each day.

LCHS cheerleaders, steppers and the school’s Panther mascot entertained students and faculty. Then, Button Gwinnett students from each grade level, starting with kindergarten through fifth grade, chanted about the importance of being drug-free.

The Red Ribbon campaign was established by the National Family Partnership in 1988 to pay tribute to the memory of Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique Camarena, who was murdered in 1985 as he fought the war on drugs.

Drugs remain a problem for American children and youth, according to the NFP. According to the group’s Red Ribbon website, more than 3 million teens in the United States abuse prescription drugs. Every day, 3,300 more children begin experimenting with prescription drugs, according to Seventy percent of children who abuse prescription drugs admit they got them from family or friends, reports the NFP.

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