LIVINGSTON, NJ — Throughout the year, Livingston Public Schools (LPS) works to address and meet the academic, social and emotional needs of all students. As a district, LPS works on supporting student wellness and the school community by continuing to promote mindfulness and social emotional learning in schools. During the month of October, many activities were held across all schools that supported the Week of Respect, School Violence Awareness Week and Red Ribbon Week.

The importance of the Red Ribbon Week campaign was highlighted at Livingston High School (LHS), where enhanced student and staff participation was evident. While promoting health, wellness and a drug-free lifestyle is a year-round focus, having a designated time for high school students and staff to focus on these messages is a great opportunity for all.

“It is important that we engage our students and staff at LHS directly in the Red Ribbon Week themes of substance abuse prevention, education, intervention and recovery,” said Erin Field, LHS student assistance counselor. “We want our students to take initiative to get the attention of their peers and to connect with these themes in ways that are meaningful to them as adolescents.”

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Parent programs, door decorating, special informative announcements on AM Wired and cross-curricular connections and projects aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of drugs.

As part of its efforts, LHS invited Dr. Mykee Fowlin to present “You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me” to ninth graders.

As both a professional actor and clinical psychologist, Dr. Fowlin brought to life various characters who share their personal struggles with identity, acceptance, and social pressures. He challenged the audience to minimize the barriers that keep people separate and to empathize with the struggles felt by so many. Freshmen had the opportunity to debrief this program in their English classes after the assembly.

In another program, Steven Benevisti talked to 7-12th grade students and their parents during his presentation “The Most Significant Case of My Entire Career.”

During this program, he reviewed liquor liability including the social host laws and told a powerful story of a case involving a drunk driving accident. He spoke to both students and parents about his “Contract for Life,” aimed to protect children and others from driving under the influence.

The drug-awareness theme was incorporated into the school day in a variety of ways.

Students started the day off with Red Ribbon Week-themed announcements made during the daily AM Wired broadcast. They included statistics, information and resources. In a special AM Wired announcement, LHS principal Mark Stern addressed the LHS community regarding recent trends and statistics with vaping/e-cigarettes.

Science Health Services Pathway students took the initiative to take the message into their own hands creating T-shirts with warnings about the dangers of vaping. (SEE PHOTO)

Students and staff collaborated on themes related to the Month of Respect and Red Ribbon Week and decorated interior doors at LHS accordingly. Dozens of doors were turned into artwork that promoted health, wellness and a drug free lifestyle. (SEE PHOTOS)

All departments were encouraged to make cross-curricular connections with the Red Ribbon Week themes. These projects were displayed in the Red Ribbon Week Showcase located in the main entrance hallway of the school. Examples of this collaboration included poetry, public service announcements, lessons on how drugs and alcohol affect the body, illustrations and more. (SEE PHOTO)

“Through the stories of others provided in our programming, as well as the self-expression demonstrated in the outstanding art work and creative writing of our students, we are proud of the connections made by our students to this pertinent issue,” said Field.