School District Continues Longtime Red Ribbon Week Traditions


by Katie Buelt

Posters adorn the halls of HHS to promote Red Ribbon Week.

Katie Buelt, Features editor

Countless people throughout the U.S. have or know of people who struggle with drug addictions or alcohol dependence. As the number of addicts continues to climb, how do we ensure that the next generation aspires to live a drug free life? This is where Red Ribbon Week comes into play. A staple throughout American towns for 34 years and counting, this tradition spreads the message of drug-free living and its benefits. This year’s theme is “Send a Message, be Drug Free,” encouraging students to learn the benefits of avoiding drugs and spread these ideas to others. When asked about the movement’s impacts, Student Assistance Counselor Gil Pilarte stated, “It’s effective as a whole district initiative that we can rally around something positive and in various ways.”

Red Ribbon Week was made official at the Board of Education meeting on Oct. 14, where the committee released an official proclamation stating the purpose and importance of Red Ribbon Week, mentioning that the program is “offering citizens the opportunity to demonstrate their commitments to drug free lifestyles.” 

Students took part in various activities, including wearing red for the chance to earn spirit points. Posters advertising this year’s theme have also been hung throughout the school. 

While many students and teachers are familiar with the concept of Red Ribbon Week, few are aware of how it originated. The tradition goes back over 30 years to 1985, when a Drug Enforcement Administration agent was murdered while investigating drug traffickers on the Mexican border. As a result, in 1988, the National Family Partnership established Red Ribbon Week and popularized the practice of wearing red ribbons both as a pledge to avoid drugs and as a show of remembrance for those who lost their lives while fighting the distribution of illegal drugs.

This year, the Hillsborough Police Department rounded out the week with an event that goes beyond the school hallways, allowing people of all ages to do their part in fighting drug addiction. Oct. 26 was National Take Back Day. As the name implies, police departments and other groups throughout the country are taking back unused or expired prescriptions, free of charge, and offering to safely dispose of them. Studies have shown that the majority of adults with drug dependency receive their drugs from home medicine cabinets, both their own and those of friends and family. Disposing of medicines that one has no use for could have substantial impacts when it comes to halting the opioid epidemic that continues to sweep the nation.

At any time, students and teachers can visit to learn more about this movement and take the Red Ribbon pledge. While it may only last for a few days, the messages of Red Ribbon Week help keep children and adults drug-free all year round, and it seems that this program and its traditions are here to stay.