Red ribbons for drug-fee schools
The afternoon sun slanted through the stained glass windows inside the Eagle River Christian School’s chapel on Feb. 25 as children filed in, class by class, most dressed in the school’s signature black polo shirts.
The students were assembled for an award ceremony honoring Erin Caudle, who won the regional division of the 2013 National Red Ribbon Photo Contest.
The contest was sponsored by National Family Partnership, a nonprofit organization that promotes drug prevention and education.
Red Ribbon Campaign events are held in memory of US Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena, who was tortured and killed in Mexico in 1985.
This year’s theme was “A healthy me is drug free!”
It was the first time Eagle River Christian School participated in Red Ribbon Week events, which took place back in October. Students wore red to school, put on red hats to “put a cap on drugs” and wore silly socks on “put a sock on drug” day.
Caudle decorated the doorway of her house as part of the photo contest, posted the result on the National Family Partnership Website and ended up winning the northwest regional award.
The prize netted her an iPad plus money for her school.
PTO added that money to funds the students had raised through the box top program, pancake breakfast and other events. The total came to almost $2,000. Representatives Andrea Radford and Melissa Boquet showed off what the school purchased with the funds: Fun stuff like two full-size soccer goal nets, dodgeballs, clay and Playdoh balanced out with practical items such as scientific calculators, Presidential Fitness Tests and the biggie, large rolls of colorful paper for bulletin boards.
“We haven’t had any for two years,” teacher Cheryl Clay exclaimed.
Caudle, who is in 7th grade, said that prior to the contest she had been looking around for a tablet to help her with schoolwork. The she discovered the contest.
“It was free and when I realized that it could help a lot of people, we decided to do it.”
She went on her computer and printed out large, red letters that spelled “A Healthy Me is Drug Free.”
“I taped it to the door and my mom took a picture with my dad and I,” she said.
She posted the photograph on the site, contacted friends and tried to get the word out about the voting process.
Then, as they were picking up her siblings from a movie while visiting family in Michigan, her mother’s cell phone rang.
It was the Red Ribbon Campaign, informing her that she had won her regional division.
“It was a surprise,” she said. “I was excited and didn’t know what to say.”
She’s been using the new iPad for homework and school projects.
Yet the best part about the contest was realizing how many people voted for her.
“I didn’t expect that,” she said.
Principal Denny Archer opened the presentation with a short talk followed by an attitude check, where students yelled “Praise the Lord” at the top of their lungs.