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Honoring a sacrifice

Schools celebrating Red Ribbon events honor the memory of a DEA agent who died in the '80s


SUBMITTED PHOTO - During a Red Ribbon assembly last week at Forest Hills Elementary, Boy Scout Bryan Welton was honored for his Eagle Scout project that benefitted the school - a big map of America.In 1986, the California State PTA adopted the Red Ribbon Campaign to prevent drug-related violence and so that no one would forget Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.

Leaders of drug cartels murdered Camarena in 1985, and the media attention that followed cast a light on the dark, deadly world of drug trafficking. In 1988, Red Ribbon Week was recognized nationally, with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan serving as the honorary chairs, according to the Red Ribbon Coalition.

It was the era of the “Just Say No” ad campaign.

This month, students, staff and teachers in Lake Oswego are honoring Camarena’s sacrifice by participating in Red Ribbon events. Students also are learning valuable refusal skills and being taught to think about healthy choices. Schools throughout the district and the nation are putting on events to help teach children to take a stand against drugs.

Forest Hills Elementary held an all-school assembly on Oct. 22 during its Red Ribbon Week and teach kids to “Be Happy to Be Drug Free.” At the assembly, six of the students in Leadership delivered speeches on making healthful choices and learning refusal skills. What are refusal skills? They’re techniques to help kids “just say no,” which isn’t always easy.

REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Forest Hills fifth-grader Peter Gevurtz offered tips on refusal skills during last week's Red Ribbon assembly.“Say ‘no’ if it’s not good — and say why,” explained fifth-grader Peter Gevurtz after the assembly. “If they still don’t believe you, say you’re doing something and walk away.”

The Forest Hills assembly also featured Lake Oswego Police Department School Liaison Officer James Euscher and Boy Scout Bryan Welton. Euscher offered some advice, and Welton was honored for performing an Eagle Scout project that benefitted the school. With the help of fellow Boy Scouts and other volunteers, the Lake Oswego High School sophomore arranged to have a giant, colorful map of America painted on the playground surface as part of his effort to get an Eagle Scout rank, the highest rank awarded by the Boy Scouts of America.

“I love the map; it’s awesome,” said Forest Hills physical education teacher Melinda McDonald. McDonald already has used the map as a learning tool, instructing children to stand on certain states during P.E. activities.

Welton says he chose the project in honor of three of his four siblings, who attend Forest Hills. And “if I live here when I’m older, then I want my kids to have a good time at their school,” he says.

The theme at River Grove Elementary’s Red Ribbon Week, which runs through today, is “A Minion Healthy Choices,” with children creating a Minion character (yellow creatures from the “Despicable Me” movies and “Minions” offshoot) who represents them and one healthy choice they plan to make. The students’ Minions are now displayed in the main hallways.

At Westridge Elementary, students held an assembly Wednesday, featuring trainers from Club Sports. The winners of a poster contest also were announced, as was the name of the school mascot. Look for photos of the Westridge event in The Review next week.

To share photos or details about your school’s Red Ribbon spirit, contact Jillian Daley at 503-636-1281 ext. 109 or jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com.

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