School 4 launches balloons to take stand against drugs

Seeing red may generate a negative connotation, but recently it was for a good cause in the city.

Over 230 elementary students at Dunkirk City School 4 took a stand against drugs by releasing red balloons into the sky at the same time. The balloon launch (called “Take a Stand: Wear Red Day”) was part of a series of activities for the school’s Red Ribbon Week, a national drug prevention awareness campaign that ran from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 in Dunkirk.

Before releasing their balloons, the students and their teachers marched around the block on the Central Avenue, East Seventh Street, Washington Avenue and West Lucas Avenue sidewalks, holding up custom-made signs made out of paper plates with sayings such as “Hugs not drugs” and “Don’t do drugs” written on them. The students also chanted, “Be drug-free,” as they paraded around the block.

“The marching was to show the community we are choosing to be drug-free and for a neighborhood school to remind its neighborhood to follow that pledge, too,” School 4 Principal Kimberlee Texter said. “For Red Ribbon Week, we remind students to be drug-free and to make a promise that will be a part of their life, not just at School 4, but through their whole lifetime. The balloon launch is to seal that promise.”

The balloons had the saying, “These paws don’t touch drugs,” on them, as well as stickers asking for whoever finds the balloons (once they have made their way back to the ground) to call the school and report them in.

“The morning following our balloon launch, we received a call from Janet Burke of Tannersville, Pa., which is approximately 336 miles from Dunkirk,” School 4 Secretary Jeannine Peterson said in an email to the OBSERVER. “That afternoon, we got a call from Brian Andrews of Millstone Township, N.J., which is approximately 414 miles from Dunkirk, stating he had also discovered one of our balloons. We are extremely happy that this year’s balloons went farther than ever and in record time.”

Other events School 4 had for Red Ribbon Week included wearing a favorite team shirt to school (“Team Up Against Drugs”); dressing up for a costume parade on Halloween; and planting 250 tulip bulbs around the flag pole, which will flower in the spring and remind students of their promise not to do drugs.

“That way in the future, the students will be reminded of their pledge to be drug-free,” Texter said regarding the tulips.

Texter thanked the Parent-Teacher Association for helping out with the Red Ribbon Week activities, especially the parents who handed out balloons for the balloon launch.

“We appreciate all they do to make this week a success,” she said.

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