Schools take on substance abuse

Activities are aimed at showing kids the results of poor choices.

October 17, 2012|By Peter Day
  • Keiko Segismundo, 11, put her hair up tall as she enjoys herself with her 6th grade friends during recess on wild hair day for Red Ribbon Week at La Canada Elementary School.
Keiko Segismundo, 11, put her hair up tall as she enjoys… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

La Cañada Elementary School students on Tuesday got a head start on their district counterparts in observing Red Ribbon Week, an annual national substance abuse awareness campaign. The LCE campus organized an orange-and-black “Say Boo to Drugs” day and allowed children to wear zany hairstyles.

The rest of the local public schools plan to hold related events next week. The La Cañada Elementary observance dovetailed with a recent visit by the school’s resource officer, Deputy Cesar Romero, a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Success Through Awareness and Resistance unit. As a STAR representative, the deputy collaborates with educators, students and parents to discourage students from turning to drugs, gangs and violence.

Despite the frivolity on campus Tuesday, the underlying message was sobering: Drugs, alcohol and tobacco can derail your dreams.

“I think they’re definitely making the connection,” said LCE principal Christine Castillo. “The students’ signs and posters are translating the message into kids’ words. That’s where we’re seeing their buy-in.”


Following input from Romero and the Red Ribbon Week theme, LCE students receive reinforcement in their classrooms.

“The teachers are carrying through the theme,” Castillo said. “They’re talking to students about healthy choices and what are the good choices.”

And the lessons learned through Red Ribbon Week and the STAR collaboration reaffirm basic principles that foster a healthy learning environment, Castillo said.

“Be safe. Be respectful. Be responsible. All those components are important in order to have a successful school,” she said.

Red Ribbon Week began following the 1985 death of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camerena. Camerena was murdered after working undercover in Guadalajara, Mexico for several years.

With planning provided by members of parent-teacher associations, the Paradise Canyon and Palm Crest elementary schools, along with La Cañada High and LCHS 7/8, will bring home the message with a variety of activities. Many will be light-hearted, others serious.

Red Ribbon Week will be kicked off on Sunday, when the high school will be decorated with red ribbons. At 3 p.m., PTA President Denise Longo and student representative Emily Temple will help present the start of the school site’s celebration.

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