Students say up, up  and away to drugs

Posted: October 22, 2013

The Winchester Star

Cole Robinson, 6, a first-grader at Stonewall, holds onto a red balloon that he and his classmates signed and were about to launch at the school's Red Ribbon Week kickoff.
Stonewall Elementary School students on Monday launch red balloons to kick off a week of activities for Red Ribbon Week, a drug prevention campaign. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
Jay McDonald, 7, and Tucker Breeden, 8, both second-graders at Stonewall Elementary School, recite the Red Ribbon pledge just before launching their balloons at the school’s Red Ribbon week kickoff on Monday. Red Ribbon week is a drug prevention campaign. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER

Forty-two red balloons took off on a northeast wind Monday as a symbol of Stonewall Elementary School’s pledge to be drug-free.

“They look like red ants!” screamed second-grader Jordon Anderson as the balloons disappeared out of sight.

The launch was a kickoff to Red Ribbon Week — an alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention campaign observed in October in the United States.

For first-grader Alexis Woodward, it’s all about the color.

“I love that you get to wear red,” she said.

During the week, students across the country will participate in activities in the classroom aimed at keeping them drug-free. At Stonewall, students can dress up in different “crazy” clothing each day, from sweat suits to pajamas, as a way to show their commitment.

“It’s your way of showing you’re not going to do drugs when you get older. Or ever,” said fifth-grader Jackie Regan.

On Monday, the approximately 500 students at the school signed the balloons and wrote anti-drug slogans on them.

On their balloon, Logan Sandefur’s fifth-grade classmates wrote: “Face it, people. Drugs are bad.”

“It’s a time to speak out about drugs,” Logan said about the week.

Principal Darren Thomas said the balloons are meant to potentially inspire those who find them.

“You never know who might see the messages on the balloons,” he told the children at the launch. “They might be important to them.”

Before the launch, Thomas led the students in the recitation of the drug-free pledge.

As part of the week’s activities, members of Shenandoah Valley Young Marines are encouraging everyone to join them Thursday at the football field at Robert E. Aylor Middle School at 901 Aylor Road in Stephens City to form a human ribbon.

Participants should wear red and be at the school at 5:30 p.m. A picture will be taken at 6 p.m.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com