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Red Ribbon Week is in Effect at Port Chester MS

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. – Red Ribbon Week, a nationally recognized drug prevention campaign, is currently in full swing at Port Chester Middle school. Spearheaded by sixth grade guidance counselor Louise Piccolino, the annual event is conducted to introduce sixth to eighth graders to the adverse effects of drugs and alcohol.

Piccolino, who said she introduced the event 13 years ago, stressed the importance of being careful in what the school presents. “It’s difficult for a sixth grader to grasp the concept of marijuana,” she said. “So we try to emphasize the importance of maintaining good health, and how drugs affect that.”

Luckily for Piccolino, the school has not been alone in their efforts. Partnering with both Greenwich Hospital and Open Door Medical Center of Port Chester has strengthened the week immensely, she said. “We’re so fortunate to collaborate with community partners to this extent,” Piccolino said, “It really enhances the learning experience.”

The event kicked off on Monday with D.A.R.E. Officer Melissa Acocella delivering a specialized version of the morning announcements.

On Tuesday, students were encouraged to wear red or their favorite bandana for “wear red/band against drugs day.” Other events include “team up against drugs day,” which encourages students to wear sports jerseys and “put a cap on drugs day,” for which students are allowed to wear their favorite hat.

Throughout the week, representatives from Open Door Medical Center have set up stations in the gym and cafeteria to discuss various facts about drugs and alcohol. Tuesday’s topic was tobacco awareness.

“We’re raising their critical awareness of how they are targeted by big tobacco and alcohol companies,” Benjamin Fogarty of Open Door said.

Piccolino acknowledged that “there is no way of knowing” if they’re making a difference, but remains optimistic about her efforts. “We can never know for sure if we’ve reached five or 50 students,” said Piccolino. “We can only hope that our message is heard.”

Red Ribbon Week was established by U.S. Congress in 1988 in honor of Enrique Camarena, a drug enforcement administration special agent who was killed by drug traffickers in 1985.

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