Barbara Magnetti takes a picture of her grandson Michael Magnetti, 11, with his parents Bob and Kay Magnetti and sisters Mia, 13, and Mary Ellen, 7, during the Red Ribbon Campaign annual awards breakfast at the Old Town Banquet Center in Valparaiso, Ind. Tuesday May 14, 2013. Michael Magnetti won a $50 gift certificate for his poster design work. | Stephanie Dowell~Post-Tribune
Updated: June 25, 2013 6:09AM
Local students made their commitment to stay drug-free clear and were honored for their efforts during the recent annual awards breakfast in Valparaiso for the Red Ribbon Campaign.
Red Ribbon Week is held the last week in October and was founded to remember Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a federal Drug Enforcement Agent who was kidnapped and tortured to death in Mexico in February 1985, said Jackie Sterling, Red Ribbon chair for the Porter County Substance Abuse Council.
During that week, local schools hold substance abuse awareness programs and encourage students to wear red ribbons.
“It’s more than a ribbon. It’s a statement, a pledge for a drug-free America,” said Sterling, who also noted that she’s had a passion for saving years in the 10 years she’s served as Red Ribbon chair.
Two students received $500 scholarships for their efforts to encourage others to remain drug-free. They were Tyler Birmingham, a senior at Kouts High School, and Elizabeth Wood, a senior at Washington Township High School.
“Choosing to become drug free is a rewarding decision in life,” Birmingham said, adding the decision has allowed him to excel academically and in student leadership, when he saw his peers’ grades and achievement drop as they got involved with drugs.
Wood is president of her school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter, and has organized a wide array of programs in that capacity, including Red Ribbon Week activities, and awareness campaigns before spring break and prom.
“Drugs not only affect the user, but the people they care about,” she said.
Additionally, two students won $100 for their poster designs. They were Dylan Fishburn, a senior at Hebron High School, and Emily Jerome, an eighth-grader at Chesterton Middle School.
Four students received $50 for their placemat designs. They were Julia Tarpley, fifth grade, Washington Township Elementary School; Claire Bailey, fifth grade, Liberty Intermediate School; Michael Magnetti, fourth grade, Northview Elementary School; and Sheri Orlando, second grade, Washington Township Elementary School.
Home Mountain Printing is printing the posters and placemats. The posters will be up for Red Ribbon Week in local schools, Sterling said, and the placemats will be in local eateries.