SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Red Ribbon week began in 1980 by the National Family Partnership. This non-profit organization started its grassroots campaign back in the day. The group was originally known has the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth. Their goal was simple, to promote a partnership to help ensure kids stay drug-free in order to live a healthy, productive life. Former first lady, Nancy Reagan served as the organization's honorary chair from 1980 through 1988.
The group's Red Ribbon Campaign kicked off in 1985 and has been a mainstay through school districts every since. Red Ribbon Week is celebrated annually every fall on October 23 through October 31 with various activities and educational programs designed to encourage students to choose a drug-free lifestyle.
Memorial's campaign was led by new guidance counselor Jessica Silva as well as the other members of the sixth through eighth grade school's safety team, including principal Brian Kitchin and staff members Karen Joseph, Adrienne Hansen, Stefanie Bromberg, Samantha DeFilippo, Katherine Shkolar, Kerin Caliendo and Erin Glassen.
Students watched and discussed "What Would I do If" videos in addition to learning about the problems that tobacco, alcohol and other drugs create in life. The middle schoolers also signed pledge cards.
The school employed 300 red cups to make an attention-getting display on Memorial's front fence during Red Ribbon Week as well. The cups were arranged to spell out the campaign's main message, "Elect to be Drug Free" in order to make an eye-catching arrangement that would grab the community's attention. The display was set up right in front of the school where parents drop off their children every morning.
October 26 was designated as Wear Red Day at Memorial. Students and staff created a human red ribbon behind the slogan to show the school's commitment to the National Family Partnerships' goal of a drug-free lifestyle.
“This is my first year as Memorial Middle School’s school counselor, and it was amazing and heartwarming to see the support and cooperation of so many staff and students for these past few weeks," Silva said.