RJHS observes Red Ribbon Week

Kayte Allred RJHS Student Journalist

Kayte Allred
RJHS Student Journalist
RANGELY I Red Ribbon Week is all about substance abuse awareness. For the second straight year, Rangely Junior High Student Council sponsored Red Ribbon Week within the school. The Red Ribbon observance serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities. Since the beginning of the campaign in 1988, the Red Ribbon Campaign has touched millions of U.S. children and families (http://redribbon.org/about/).
To kick off Red Ribbon Week, which ran from Oct. 23-31, Rangely Junior High School had an assembly to stress the outcomes and dangers of drugs. Many speakers came to talk about drugs and the first speaker was coach Eric Hejl. Coach Hejl talked from a couple perspectives in regard to drug use. The first perspective he touched on was “living in the moment.” As middle school students, we all think about what’s happening now. It is rare for us to think about the big picture and how using drugs and alcohol will affect our bodies later in life. Coach Hejl also spoke from a Rangely native’s point of view. He stated that he understood the monotony small town life can sometimes take on, but emphasized the many other ways to keep ourselves occupied in a positive way. Finally, Coach Hejl told us to think about drugs from a team perspective. If you’re on a team, how is doing drugs going to affect your team? All perspectives Coach Hejl presented to the junior high had a common theme, how living in the moment and making bad decisions goes beyond the moment and affects more than the individual making the decision.
After Coach Hejl’s great speech Officer Mike Schwartzengraber entered the auditorium. Officer Schwartzengraber is part of the Rangely Police Department and is the K-9 handler. His dog’s name is Rio. Rio is a very gentle, loving, high-energy dog. Officer Schwartzengraber stressed that drugs are illegal and can lead to a lot of different consequences, none of which are positive. He said that the fines of doing drugs can amount to thousands of dollars. He also mentioned that not only do drugs affect us, they affect our families. He told us that alcohol is not illegal, but it is not the greatest path to take. After Officer Schwartzengraber finished, he and Rio gave a demonstration. Officer Schwartzengraberhid showed us how quickly Rio can identify the scent of drugs by placing a case of marijuana under a tub in a row of three tubs. He then told us a little about Rio and then let him find the drugs. Rio found it very quickly thanks to his strong sense of smell.
After Officer Mike and Rio finished, all the students got a red balloon and were directed outside to the football field. Students were instructed to think of a pledge they wanted to achieve to live a healthy life and were given three minutes. Once we got the signal from one of the teachers, we all released our balloons and watched the red cloud of balloons float away. We were then told that the balloons were a way to symbolize our promise and our pledge we just made. By releasing the balloons we gave life to our dreams and solidified our pledge we created for ourselves. All the students who participated in this event had a great time at the assembly and recognized Red Ribbon Week by learning about the effects of substance abuse in a new, interesting way. Red Ribbon Week helped students at Rangely Junior High by opening our eyes to the long and short term effects of substance abuse.