National Red Ribbon Week: Mexico middle school students send anti-drug message

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The door of Lisa Belanger’s seventh-grade classroom at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico is decorated as book shelves for National Red Ribbon Week. The anti-drug campaign message by students is Read Your Way Out of Drugs. (Submitted photo)

MEXICO — Students at Mountain Valley Middle School celebrated National Red Ribbon Week by pledging to abstain from drugs and taping anti-drug messages to classroom doors.

The theme of the nationwide campaign, Oct. 23-31, was Life Is Your Journey, Travel Drug Free.

At the middle school, drug-free messages were displayed, said Miki Skehan, program director of Western Foothills Kids Association, the after-school program for the middle school and Dirigo Elementary School in Peru.

Eighth-graders Maggie Purcell and Avieah Donovan taped classmates’ drawings of a single key containing the words “Be drug free.” It means to not do drugs; it’s the key to your life, to not do drugs, they said.

The winning classroom door was created by Tammy Gallant’s sixth-grade homeroom students. They made a large bubble gum machine with construction paper and photos of the students inside the gumballs with the words “Don’t Let Drugs Blow Your Future.”

The second-place door was created by Lisa Belanger’s seventh-grade classroom showing a bookshelf stacked with books and the words “Read Your Way Out of Drugs.”

Winners received a pizza party, Skehan said.

The contest judges were police Sgt. Douglas Maifeld and Patrolman Brad Gallant of the Rumford Police Department, Lt. Dan Carrier of the Mexico Police Department, Oxford County bail commissioner Robert Grinnell and middle school kitchen staffer Cindy Touchette.

River Valley Rising, a local nonprofit organization providing substance abuse prevention and education for youth and families, supplied the middle school with activities and prizes for its campaign.

The national anti-drug campaign was created by the National Family Partnership in 1980, a group of concerned and determined parents convinced they should play a leadership role in drug prevention, according to redribbon.org.

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Eighth-graders Maggie Purcell, left, and Avieah Donovan participate in National Red Ribbon Week at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico. The two helped display students’ anti-drug artwork. (Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times)

Homeroom students in Tammy Gallant’s sixth-grade room at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico decorated her door with a gumball machine for National Red Ribbon Week. Their effort took first place with the message “Don’t Let Drugs Blow Your Future.” (Submitted photo)

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