The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

WHS celebrates Red Ribbon Week

The SACs’ recipe for a drug-free life (Photo created by Gianna Puglisi)

On Oct. 23, WHS kicked off Red Ribbon Week for drug and alcohol prevention awareness with a variety of ways to inform the community about the dangers of addictive substances. The WHS Student Assistance Counselors, Lorna Lopez and  Jilyan Lane-Cruz, as well as the DREAM Team, a WHS club dedicated to alcohol and drug prevention, put together resources and engaging ways to promote drug-free living for students.

The red ribbon was first worn for Enrique (Kiki) Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration Agent who was tortured and killed in Mexico in 1985. After his death, Camarena’s loved ones began to wear red ribbons to stand with his efforts toward preventing drug abuse and to symbolize their support for him.

Former California Congressman Duncan Hunter and many of “Camarena’s high school friends started Camarena’s Club,” pledging to live drug-free in his honor. Other parents in their community who had gone through a similar trauma with their children began wearing ribbons in support of Camarena’s cause. This started what we now recognize in schools across the country as Red Ribbon Week.

To celebrate and increase awareness, the Student Assistance Counselors orchestrated a school-wide spirit week. On Monday, students and staff participated in twin day to encourage students to not “let drugs make you see double.” Tuesday, the school was empowered to stay drug-free on superhero day, where students wore their favorite superhero t-shirts. Pajama day followed on Wednesday, encouraging students to “wake up drug-free.” Thursday, students wore clothes from their favorite decades, to recognize how we should leave drugs in the past. Finally, the week of awareness ended with sports day, and students wore their favorite sports team loud and proud to “team up” against drug use.

Alongside the spirit day themes, the DREAM Team submitted facts to BDTV that were projected through-out the week. Important information such as, “14.8 million people, ages 12 or older, meet criteria to be diagnosed with alcohol use disorder and tried their first drink in high school,” and “50 percent of teenagers who tried drugs self-report doing so because of peer pressure,” were broadcast on the announcements throughout the week.

While Red Ribbon Week has been recognized at WHS in the past, Lane-Cruz explained to Hi’s Eye that this year they were looking to “push for more of a focus on the mental health of our students; we wanted to make students aware of the effects of substances on mental health.”

WHS senior Betheny Swartz said, “I think it is important that the school is putting an emphasis on mental health alongside the dangers of substance abuse because the two things really go hand in hand.” According to, roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental disorders are also affected by substance abuse. There has been a larger emphasis on mental health at WHS with the introduction of the student assistance counselor position in 2021, and the addition of a second one this year.

For anyone looking for help with addiction, reach out to either the Student Assistance Counselors or a trusted adult for resources and support.

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