Students and teachers dress up during Red Ribbon Week


     Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, Graham High School students and staff still took part in the nationwide Red Ribbon Week campaign. This year, Red Ribbon Week was on Oct. 26-30, since it always takes place during the week of Halloween. Graham participates in Red Ribbon Week in order to encourage students to not take drugs, as they are dangerous to people of all ages. The campaign students and staff have come to love all started in the 1980s, when a tragic death was turned into the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention program.

     According to the Red Ribbon Week web page, the murder of DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agent Enrique Camarena by drug traffickers in 1985 initiated members of his community to wear red ribbons to show their opposition toward drugs.  In 1988, NFP (National Family Partnership) funded the first Red Ribbon Week celebration. Over the years, this small, town based group evolved into an organization across the country in which students and teachers dress up based on predetermined categories to show their support in the battle against drug use in adolescents. During Red Ribbon Week, each day of the school week revolves around a different theme that students dress up according to. The goal of Red Ribbon week is to encourage students to say no to drugs.

     Red Ribbon Week is a fun-filled week of dressing up in outfits not permitted to wear in school otherwise. Pajama day is a favorite among many students, such as Chloe Martin (10), who said, “I like pajama day when we dress up in our pajamas.” Julia Stacy (12) also said, “I like pajama day the best.”

     Halloween is loved just as equally. Regarding their favorite days to dress up, Faith Looney (9) agreed with Emma Donchetz (11) who said, “My favorite day is when we dress up in costumes.” Although Graham High School is located in a primarily rural area, Camo Day wasn’t as loved as one would think it would be.  Stacy, Martin, and Donchetz all came to an agreement that their least favorite day of the week was Camo Day. Martin, for example, said, “My least favorite is probably Camo Day.”

     Every student had their own ideas for what day they would do if they could change a day in Red Ribbon Week to something else.

     “We used to do Nerd Day, and I really enjoyed it, so I would probably change [a day] to that,” Stacy said. For Nerd Day, students would dress up in apparel such as large glasses, suspenders, pigtails, or knee socks to look like a stereotypical “nerd”. 

     “I’d change one day to a Graham Day where we wear Graham to show our spirit,” Martin said. Students participating in Graham Day would wear jerseys, hoodies, or shirts that would show their love of Graham High School. 

     “I would change [a day] to Career Day,” Donchetz said. In her vision of Career Day, students could dress up as any profession of their choosing, or even as what they aspire to be when they grow up. 

     Red Ribbon Week is made possible by the CADRE organization at Graham High School. Each year, they try their best to make the week as fun as possible for the underclassmen. This year was no exception, even with the unexpected obstacles that COVID-19 presented. 

     There is no question that this year, there were more guidelines than usual during Red Ribbon Week. “I think the masks are a restriction, but it can go with [students’ outfits] too,” Stacy said. Donchetz added that CADRE can’t do fundraisers this year, so students can’t pay to wear hats, and students still have to follow social distancing guidelines. Most students agreed that this year felt no different than previous years, showing a success among CADRE students and Red Ribbon Week in general.

     Lots of people show their spirit during Red Ribbon Week. Some however, do not participate, although it isn’t all lack of cooperation. “I honestly just don’t own some of the stuff that’s on the list,” Alexis Leedy (9) said. Hannah Fritz (10) dealt with the same issue. “It’s a cool concept, but it’s stressful, and I don’t want to spend hours picking out an outfit,” Fritz said. Fritz added that she participates when she owns the clothing required, however, some days she doesn’t have anything that correlates with the theme. 

     Even though many events were changed because of COVID, Red Ribbon Week was no different than usual. Despite the pandemic trying to worsen the moods of many, students and teachers alike still had fun dressing up for Red Ribbon Week to show their opposition toward drug use.