By Brigitte Zumaya
Brookhaven Early College High School organized a number of activities to promote Red Ribbon Week on campus. “Red Ribbon Week is about an awareness of drug abuse and alcohol abuse,” ECHS Principal Michael Arreola said. “We had a committee of kids come together from different grade levels and basically we gave them the freedom to come up with the themes,” Arreola said.
The Red Ribbon Week theme on Oct. 23 was “Save the day from drugs,” encouraging students to come dressed as their favorite superhero. “I dressed as Leonardo from the Ninja Turtles because when I was little that was my favorite TV show,” ECHS student Paulina Cortes said.
Students participated by dressing up because its “one week we can all enjoy to fight against drugs,” Cortes said. The following day was “Pair up against drugs,” also called twin day, where students coordinated their attire with someone else.
“You pick somebody, you’re paired up and it’s really about having the capable partners in life to help you stay on track to what you want to do,” Arreola said. Friday’s theme was “Spook out drugs,” where students wore their Halloween costumes. It was one of Cortes’ favorite days to dress up for Red Ribbon Week. She was dressed as a zombie soccer player, “because I’m actually a soccer player,” Cortes said.
The origin of Red Ribbon Week began, according to an article on justthinktwice.com, on Feb. 7, 1985. Special Agent Enrique Camarena, known to his friends as “Kiki,” had been in Mexico for more than four years on the trail of Mexican marijuana and cocaine traffickers. As he walked to his truck, he was approached by five men who shoved him into a beige Volkswagen.
After his abduction in Mexico, he was tortured and brutally murdered by drug traffickers. Kiki gave his life in the fight against drugs and the public wanted to do something to remember the ultimate sacrifice that he paid.
Red Ribbon Week started in Kiki’s hometown of Calexico, California, and soon gained momentum across California and spread to the rest of the country.
The event was formalized in 1988, when President Ronald and First Lady Nancy Reagan served as the Red Ribbon Week honorary chairpersons. “I think that it’s just sometimes you just need to have a symbol and he was a good example because he tried to do something positive,” Arreola said.
Red Ribbon Week is named for the red ribbons worn by students pledging to remain drug-free. The Dallas County Community College District promotes a variety of Red Ribbon events as part of a larger campaign advocating a drug-free lifestyle throughout the school year.