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Red Ribbon Week Theme: Love Yourself
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Students gave it a go racing one another in a bounce house obstacle course, Tuesday afternoon. Racing to see who could be the fastest as part of Bounce for a Drug Free Life, the students jumped through hoops, climbed obstacles, scaled walls and then slid to their finish. - photo by Teresa Hammond/The Leader

Oakdale schools are busy this week, as they make the most of a short schedule and Red Ribbon Week observation. Red Ribbon Week is hosted nationwide the last full week of October.

RRW was established in 1985 by National Family Partnership, a grassroots, nonprofit organization first formed in 1980. NFP’s primary focus is on drug prevention and education through awareness, advocacy and resources.

Oakdale Joint Unified School District embraces the week by encouraging students to live a healthy drug free life, through daily messages, skits, theme days and rallies.

“Love yourself. Be drug free” is this year’s theme for the six school sites. The varying campuses have been decorated with slogans, posters and red streamers as reminders to the student bodies of the week’s focus and events. Students also signed Drug Free pledges and are given signature RRW bracelets to wear each day as part of the week’s observance.

The campuses also host Dress Up days, which coincide with the awareness theme of any given day. Some of the more common themes throughout the six school sites were: “Unite Against Drugs”- Wear Red; “Team Up Against Drugs”- wear team jersey; “Pajama Day”- Put Drugs to Sleep.

“We do this week big,” Oakdale Junior High site coordinator Erin Benbow said of the school’s planned activities. “The leadership students started decorating the campus Sunday and then again early Monday morning to kick-off the week.”

The Junior High also hosted a door decorating contest, fun informative facts on the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco use in the daily bulletin and window painting by the Oasis Art Academy.

Due to the short week and Friday being a day off, the campus has chosen to conclude the week’s events with a rally on Monday, Nov. 3.

Oakdale High School’s PHAST (Protecting Health and Slamming Tobacco) club put on the festivities for RRW. In addition to dress up days, the club hosted the following lunch time activities: Relay races with ‘tar’ and Drunk goggles; a bouncing bin obstacle course and cup stacking. Adjacent to the activities the club featured an informational table, offering students pins, pencils, as well as Drug free pledges to sign and informational brochures.

“The most impactful is seeing all the kids agreeing to be drug free,” said PHAST secretary Jessica Gorman, “because that’s important to me.”

Gorman also shared her hopes that more students take the tobacco issue more seriously, as it is one she feels to be a problem among younger people, as well as on campus.

“We get our funding through TUPE (Tobacco-Use Prevention Education) program,” PHAST Advisor Ed Rapinchuk said of the California Department of Education program. “Big tobacco companies break the rules. They break the laws and the fines go back to TUPE.

“Red Ribbon Week is primarily about drugs and alcohol; we like to put the two together (health and tobacco). It’s a close cousin.”