Harvey School gives Red Ribbon Week a rousing kick-off

County Executive Jim Kreuser addresses the Red Ribbon Week kick-off at Harvey School on Monday.

A buzz of excitement filled the air of the Harvey Elementary School gymnasium on Monday morning, decked out with festive posters, ribbons, and banners. As music from the Bradford Percussion Group floated in through the open doors, children dressed in red fidgeted eagerly in their spots on the floor.

They were gathered for the opening ceremony to kick off the twenty-fifth annual Red Ribbon Week, a campaign at the local and nationwide level aimed at encouraging a drug-free lifestyle.

Harvey principal, Ursula Hamilton-Perry, began the ceremony, welcoming the many special guests in attendance, including KUSD Superintendent Michele Hancock, Sheriff David Beth, Chief of Police John Morrissey, County Executive Jim Kreuser, and fifth district Alderperson Rocco LaMacchia. Laughs echoed throughout the room when it was revealed that LaMacchia was standing in for Mayor Keith Bosman because Bosman had been called to serve jury duty that morning.

When Superintendent Hancock stepped up to the podium, she led the children in a special Halloween-themed chant about staying drug-free. A Washington Middle School instrumental group and classes of Harvey students also gave performances during the program, keeping with the theme of “I Can Be Drug Free By Just Being Me.” The creator of this slogan, Harvey student Natalie Munns, was recognized and honored for her winning entry in the slogan contest.

As the morning’s ceremony varied between serious and fun, Sheriff Beth spoke to the audience about the origins of Red Ribbon Week, telling the children that the campaign was inspired by events surrounding late drug enforcement agent Enrique Camarena, who, he explained gently, “didn’t make it home” (Camarena was killed by traffickers in Mexico in 1985).

Chief Morrissey, speaking next, added a bit of levity when he led the children in a pledge to stay drug-free and encouraged them to practice saying “no” by yelling it as loud as they could, loud enough to “make Dr. Hancock’s ears hurt,”  which brought more laughs from the audience of adults and students.

The event concluded with County Executive Kreuser and Alderperson LaMacchia reading proclamations declaring this Red Ribbon Week, and several of the Harvey classes singing “What A Wonderful World.”

As students and guests left to continue their day, the Bradford Percussion Group lined the halls to send them off with more musical fanfare.

For more information about Kenosha County’s 2012 Red Ribbon Week, call (262) 359-2257.

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