Following several days of activities focusing on being drug free, Red Ribbon Week in Oakdale schools wrapped up on Friday, Oct. 29. While all the schools planned events under the same “I am Drug Free” theme, they each had their own unique plans to bring awareness and education to students about living drug-free lives.
One unique and new addition to Red Ribbon Week activities this year took place with a joint venture between Oakdale High School and the junior high.
Six OHS varsity football players, Tyler Hopkins, Austin Traub, A.C. Brown, Johnny Ru, Ernie Hinojosa, and Daniel Linder, gave up their lunch hour one day during Red Ribbon Week to be at the junior high and spend time interacting with the students. OJHS co-leadership advisor Jenny Ferguson said that they were there to model respecting their bodies and making healthy choices to the younger students.
“The kids look up to these guys,” Ferguson said.
She had talked to the OJHS administration about the prospect of having the players on campus, the administration contacted the high school, and the plan came together.
“We just want to make an impact on these kids,” said varsity football player Linder. “We’ve been here before and know the temptations… They look up to us and maybe we’ll make a difference.”
It was clear that the football players made an impression. They were, literally, the big men on campus, towering over the younger students and drawing looks, whispers, and even giggles when they arrived.
Eighth grader Kaicie Martinez and her friends shared a lunch table with the football players and said that her peers, both boys and girls, admire the high school players.
“I think it’s really cool because they’re willing to take the time to come to our school,” she said. “I’m pretty sure everyone basically knows who they are… A lot of people go to football games… All the kids look up to them because they’re on the football team. People think they’re really cool.”
Ferguson added that having the football players on campus interacting with the seventh and eighth graders helped the younger students form connections with them and showed them the importance of caring for themselves by not taking drugs.