Student council decorates for Red Ribbon Week

Senior John Richard hangs silhouettes on the walls for Red Ribbon Week to represent people that have died from drug overdose.

Madeline Smyser

Senior John Richard hangs silhouettes on the walls for Red Ribbon Week to represent people that have died from drug overdose.

Linnea Kennedy and Madeline Smyser

This year, student council has done everything they can to make Red Ribbon Week impactful for students. A national tradition, Red Ribbon Week brings awareness to drug abuse among high schoolers and strives to help students make the decision to be drug free, whether they have struggled with substance abuse in the past or not.

“By the age of 12, kids have already started making moral and ethical decisions about whether they will be drug free or not,” leadership teacher and student council sponsor Amy Gallagher said. “And so, at this point, with this age of kids that we’re working with, it becomes about what can we do to bring awareness to the kids that have maybe not been making the right decisions.”

Student council has also found several different, creative ways to reach students and teachers around the school this year.

“We’ve put red ribbons outside, on staircases, and around the school and put boards with statistics on them in building one and by the cafeteria,” Gallagher said. “We also have theme days going on. Tomorrow is Rock and Roll day. We have these themes planned throughout the week just to bring awareness and hopefully kids will participate. Then we have red ribbon stickers to give out to the teachers to wear on Wednesday.”

The student council members have decided to do something they’ve never done before this year to bring awareness. Every day, they are putting silhouettes of faces in the main hallway by the library that represent the number of people that die everyday from a drug overdose. By the end of the week there will be 823 faces on the wall because that’s how many people die from substance abuse weekly in the United States.

“The idea behind this is that it’s supposed to be shocking,” senior John Richard said. You don’t notice it everyday, but a lot of the people walking around have stories and a lot  more hurt in their lives than you would think. When I think about it, I’ve had a drug overdose in the family before, so when I walk past here it’s just a name with a face. I think it’s kind of scary seeing all these faces. That’s why I feel like this is so important. Not that it’s some silly photo but because there’s actually someone behind it. I know it may not represent something to someone else, but I know there are many people in the school that it means something to. So, that’s the importance of this drug free week. It’s standing for those who find meaning behind the faces and standing for those who believe in what’s right.”

The purpose of Red Ribbon week, however, is not just to post shocking statistics on the walls. According to math teacher and student council sponsor Matthew Roumelis, it’s to help kids overcome the lie that society tells them about what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to drugs.

“There needs to be a voice and a different narrative about it than there is now. To say that it is harmful, that it is painful, that it is something that you don’t have to do. It’s not part of being a high schooler in America. It’s a choice that you make and you can make the choice not to. It’s the safer, better choice to make.”