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Recognizing the power of red
Students sport color in campaign against drug use
Red Ribbon 2 es
From left, South senior Zane Tackett gets help with putting on a red wristband from Blaine Davis, a senior DECA member. - photo by Emily Saunders
Forsyth County students were seeing red last week in celebration of a national campaign to keep kids off drugs.
Red Ribbon Week kicked off Monday at nearly all local schools with a flurry of activities.

The event comes on the heels of a drug scare Oct. 3 at South Forsyth High School where three students were sickened and hospitalized after an apparent overdose on campus.

They, along with another student and her parents, were later charged in connection with the incident.

Red Ribbon Week is a national drug awareness campaign, observed the last full week of October, that focuses on developing and supporting ways to prevent youth from using illegal drugs and using prescription or non-prescription drugs in an illegal manner. The event was organized in response to the1985 murder of federal Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.

At South, students and staff showed support for the campaign by wearing red, white and blue Monday, pledging to be drug free on Tuesday and wearing their favorite team shirt or jersey Wednesday.

Thursday was Red Out day, where students and staff were encouraged to don red outfits.

Amanda Mapes, 17, is a senior at South. She is also president of South Forsyth’s DECA chapter. The national club is an extracurricular activity for students interested in marketing, management or entrepeneurship. Mapes and other DECA members passed out red bracelets to students last week.

“We’re the second largest chapter in the world, so we thought we’d make the largest impact on all the students at South so we passed those out,” she said.

South Principal Jason Branch thanked everyone who participated in the event.

“This week has been both informative for our students and inclusive of our students,” he said. “Many of the activities have been led this week by student organizations … All in all, it was a great week with numerous reminders to students and staff about making great choices and with positive student leadership as its primary catalyst.”

Branch said each day of the week started out with morning announcements that included information about staying drug free.

Mapes said as an incentive for students to keep wearing the bracelets, prizes will be given out to those still wearing them at the next DECA meeting this month.

Referring to the Oct. 3 incident, Mapes emphasized the importance of educating students about drugs.

“And how important it is to be drug free, how it affects their future and to support their friends and stay in the right crowd with the right friends,” she said. “Since we’re such a large chapter and we’re all supporting it, we hope people will think ‘DECA’s supporting it so we should support it.’”

Mapes said there are about 350 students involved in her chapter.

On Friday, students and staff wore school colors to show team spirit.

Other activities included daily drug free messages and a red balloon release.