Hamilton community teams up for Red Ribbon Week support

Hamilton ninth-graders Emily Koniewicz and Arianna Wittwer show their Red Ribbon Week spirit.

Two hundred students from Hamilton Central School pledged to remain drug, alcohol and tobacco free through a school-community partnership celebrating Red Ribbon Week, the oldest and largest national substance abuse prevention program in the country. This year, National Red Ribbon Week was Oct. 23 through 28.

HCS and the Hamilton Area Community Coalition collaborated on a community-wide initiative to recognize and celebrate those who live substance free. Highlights from the week included:

  • Local teens organizing spirit days with specific anti-drug themes, such as Backwards Day (Turn Your Back on Drugs) and Pajama Day (Dreaming of a Drug Free World)
  • Student leaders thanking members of the local police department, ambulance corps, hospital, National Guard Counterdrug Task Force and community coalition for saving lives every day.
  • A rousing drug-free cheer led by Superintendent Anael Alston.
  • Digital challenges hidden throughout the school linking to online quizzes that students could complete to claim prizes at an in-school Red Ribbon Store, set up during lunch periods.
  • National guest speaker Ty Sells, of Youth to Youth International, sharing with students in grades 6-12 why the seven typical arguments in favor of marijuana use were invalid arguments.
  • Hamilton Mayor Ruthann Loveless signing a proclamation

Throughout the week, 200 students signed a pledge to stay drug-, alcohol- and tobacco-free, and those signed pledges filled the wall of the main hallway in the school. Parents were also encouraged to sign the pledge to set a positive example for students.

As a reward for making positive life choices, students who signed the pledge received a red wristband that provided them with discounts at businesses and restaurants downtown. For the grand finale, Colgate Athletics offered free admission to men’s ice hockey games that weekend for students who pledged to stay drug-free.

Alston said the partnership and activities were worthwhile and benefit the entire community’s well-being.

“By raising awareness of drug abuse and building our students’ self-image, we are investing in a healthier community, state and, ultimately, nation,” he said. “We are all interconnected.”

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