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MVCSD News A Week of Awareness by Kelly Winter

Kelly Winter
Composition 1
Observation Writing 2
A Week of Awareness

During the month of October, people around the country take a week out of the month to
focus on alcohol, drug, tobacco, and violence prevention and awareness. This year Red Ribbon
Week falls on the week of the 22nd through the 26th, and the Maquoketa Valley TEL group has
been preparing since September. Currently I am involved in our TEL group at school, and work
on one of the several Red Ribbon Week committees. I want to help educate young people about
the effects of drugs and alcohol on your body, and I feel that this week is a perfect time to do it.
Since the end of September, TEL has been working on plans and activities for Red
Ribbon Week. In the beginning, our leader, Nurse Mary, split our group of forty people into 4
different committees, including: food, prizes, announcements and advertising, and middle school
activities. It was awe-inspiring to watch everyone in their groups talking away about all of the
different activities they were planning. The dedication shown by every person was incredible,
and I could tell that this might be the best Red Ribbon Week that TEL has ever put on. Nurse
Mary stated, “I have assisted with preparations for RRW almost every year since the 96/97
school year.” She goes on to say that in the past most of the work has fallen on her plate. “I am
so glad that I have a very reliable and active TEL group because they have helped me

The games committee had the responsibility of coming up with game ideas for the
tailgate and finding the materials to make those happen. The middle school and elementary
activities fell into the hands of another group. They worked closely with Nurse Mary to
brainstorm forms of entertainment that will also help educate the younger students about Red
Ribbon Week. They came up with dress-up days: pajama day; hat day; red, white and blue day;
superhero day; and wear red day. Watching the kids get to dress up and have fun is another
reason why we continue the Red Ribbon Week tradition. As a high schooler, you never really get
to see the middle school and elementary students and this helps us stay connected. One of the
other committees was advertising and announcements, which happens to be the group that my
name falls under. I specifically chose this committee because I love the hands on activities! We
get to research all different kinds of mind-blowing statistics about drug and alcohol use, and we
use those facts to create posters that hang throughout the school for the purpose of educating
students. We also wrote down different facts to be announced everyday throughout the week in
both the middle school and high school. This helps to spread the Red Ribbon Week message and
connect with our fellow classmates. Also on our to-do list was announcements that are
broadcasted over the speakers at the tailgate. We list facts and draw students’ names to receive
prizes, and almost everyone gets pumped about hearing their name! Through all of this
preparation, there has to be a reason right? True.

Red Ribbon Week is definitely important to our country, but it really affects some
Maquoketa Valley students on a deep level. Kristin Lucas wants to help younger students realize
the harmful effects of different substances before they start. Maddie Lahr agrees with Kristin,
stating, “I want to make a difference in younger kids’ lives because I want them to be educated
so they can make the best choice possible.” I would bet that our whole TEL group could stand by
these statements also. None of us want to see our fellow Wildcats go through something so
dreadful, especially when we have the power to preach and yield facts that could possibly save
their lives. Nurse Mary has been teaching kids for many years about the harmful effects of
various substances and expresses why this is important to her. “For me Red Ribbon Week is
important because it reminds adults, as well as youth, that even legal drugs/alcohol can cause
problems. It shows that education can be done in fun, less structured ways, by doing things that
are memorable.” Many Maquoketa Valley graduates can say that our school has a truly
memorable tradition for Red Ribbon Week: the tailgate.

Every fall, the Maquoketa Valley TEL group puts on a tailgate. It includes games, food,
prizes, and friends. We put on this festivity to show our peers that we can still have fun without
the influences of alcohol, nicotine, or other harmful substances. Many of the committees include
jobs that relate to the preparation for the tailgate. It all started a few years ago with the brilliant
idea of Shaylyn Trenkamp. If you ask anyone about Red Ribbon Week and what happens in our
school, almost everybody says the tailgate. Many of TEL’s group members will also claim that
this is their favorite part of the week. Maddie Lahr expresses her views on the tailgate, “I just
enjoy having fun with my friends and seeing the rest of the high school enjoying themselves as
well. I like knowing that I am doing the best I can to educate people to make educated choices
that are best for them and their bodies.”

Everybody involved put their whole effort into making this year’s Red Ribbon Week at
Maquoketa Valley a great one! Our preparations all paid off and the tailgate was a success. It’s
amazing to see everyone’s energy and passion towards helping other, I firmly believe that we are
going to change lives.