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South student hailed for anti-drug efforts
Red Rally came out of scare at school
-red ribbon
Robert J. Tavenier, left, and Penny Penn, center, surprise South Forsyth High senior Katie Reilly with an award for her work on an anti-drug rally at the school. - photo by Julie Arrington

A South Forsyth High School senior was surprised Friday with an honor for her efforts in the fight against drug use.

During a brief presentation at the school, Katie Reilly and junior Christy Ware, both 17, gave the Forsyth County Drug Coalition $325 raised as part of the Walk Away from Drugs Red Rally.

Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn and Director of Pretrial Services Robert J. Tavenier accepted the money on the coalition’s behalf.

“We were all touched by your generosity," Penn said. "In terms of the money, we thank you for that, but also by your generosity of time and also your homework,” Penn said. “We were also very impressed by your initiative.”

Reilly then shed a few tears of appreciation when Penn turned and gave her an award for outstanding achievement from the coalition. Tavenier also presented Reilly with a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble.

“I think that this is the very type of activity that we try and do, and I think it’s even more impressive when it’s coming from a young person reaching out to other students,” Penn said.

Reilly spearheaded the Red Rally in February to encourage students to stay away from drugs.

She said she was inspired to do something after an Oct. 3 drug scare at the school. 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.

“Hopefully, we can prevent what happened here from happening again,” Reilly said Friday.

After the incident, Reilly and South’s DECA chapter quickly organized daily events for Red Ribbon Week.

The national drug awareness campaign focuses on developing and supporting ways to prevent youth from using illegal drugs or using prescription and nonprescription drugs in an illegal manner.

DECA is an extracurricular activity for students interested in marketing, management or entrepeneurship.

Reilly also designed the logo for a T-shirt students bought and wore to get into the February rally, which drew about 250 of her classmates.