WVHS hosts multi-district Red Ribbon Week kick-off event


WVHS hosts multi-district Red Ribbon Week kick-off event

October 24, 2023

Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention/awareness program in the nation. Its efforts reach millions of young people annually with its messages of personal responsibility, healthy living, community-mindedness, and more during Red Ribbon Week (October 23 – 31 every year). Every year, schools across the country engage in awareness activities and presentations to help develop an understanding of the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and make or renew their commitment to living a drug-free, healthy lifestyle.

The Warwick Valley Central School District proudly hosted the Red Ribbon Week 2023 Kick-Off Ceremony at Warwick Valley High School on Oct. 23, 2023.

This year, WVCSD was the host school for the Red Ribbon Week Kick-Off Event in Orange County. WVHS principal Georgianna Diopoulos welcomed everyone to the Red Ribbon Week kickoff event, including students from SADD chapters at other area schools and their advisors, and invited everyone to embrace the theme of the day: Be kind to your mind.

View a gallery of photos from the day’s activities below this story.

“This annual event symbolizes our dedication to a drug free and healthy lifestyle,” said Ms. Diopoulos. “Red Ribbon Week unites us in promoting a drug free community, recognizing that the choices we make today shape our future. Together, we can foster a culture of kindness to our minds and bodies, and create brighter, healthier futures.”

Principal Diopoulos encouraged the visiting students to enjoy the schedule of demonstrations and activities planned throughout the morning at the high school, and to get actively engaged in the RRW activities at their respective schools throughout the week.

Next, Warwick Prevention Coalition member and past WVCSD Board of Education member and president David Eaton spoke briefly on his 35 years of service in and around the Warwick community. but I believe that the most important service project I’ve been involved with was the creation of the Warwick Valley Preventive Coalition 20 years ago.

View a gallery of photos from the day’s activities below this story.

“The ultimate responsibility of a school board is to educate and protect our children, and the Warwick Coalition works under the very same charter,” said Mr. Eaton. “Education is prevention, and it is a means of getting ahead of the addiction pandemic. A coalition is defined as an alliance for combined action, and that’s why [the Warwick Valley Coalition is] here, with the school district, the Orange County Youth Bureau, the Village of Warwick, Warwick Valley Community Center, and ADAC. “

Ray Donovan addresses the WVCSD Red Ribbon Week 2023 Kick-Off Ceremony at Warwick Valley High School on Oct. 23, 2023.

The day’s keynote speaker was Raymond Donovan, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Chief of Operations and Assistant Administrator for its Operations Division. As such, Mr. Donovan commands the DEA’s global drug enforcement efforts in 240 domestic offices across 23 divisions in the United States, 93 foreign offices in 69 countries. and the DEA’s Special Operations Division. He is the principal advisor to the DEA Administrator and Deputy Administrator on all matters pertaining to the daily worldwide operations of the DEA. 

He told the crowd, “I’ve been fighting illegal drugs for my entire life.”

Mr. Donovan shared that he grew up in a household around many family members who were either addicted to, or had actually overdosed from, using drugs.

“I decided early on in my life that I was going to be a part of the solution and not the problem,” he explained. “I made the conscientious choice to rise up, to stand up and overcome the hardship and struggles I was born into and find my life’s purpose.”

View a gallery of photos from the day’s activities below this story.

Mr. Donovan shared some sobering statistics about the increased potency and wide availability of drugs today. For example, even though marijuana is becoming legal in more ways and more areas of the country, the higher THC counts in today’s strains can be dangerous for people who decide to experiment.

“It used to be 7% potency,” said Mr. Donovan. “Today? We see 27% potency, as high as 37% potency. We’ve seen marijuana oils as high as 95% potency. Why is that something you have to hear about? Because the stigma once attached to marijuana smoking — even other types of drug use — has dropped, it doesn’t mean the dangers are not still there. They remain there!” 

Students get involved with eye-opening activities about impairment during the district’s Red Ribbon Week 2023 Kick-Off Ceremony on Oct. 23, 2023.

Fentanyl, he continued, has become the biggest threat his agency and today’s youths are facing. He warned that street versions of the synthetic opioid that is made in labs for prescription pain medicine, can be laced with things such as heroin and represent known and unknown dangers that have proven fatal for curious users all too often. He said the best way we can help is to get in the know, make informed choices to lead a healthy lifestyle, and don’t hesitate to get involved when someone needs help.  

“Find your purpose. And don’t forget to help others in need,” he said. “That is the key to happiness. Finally, be a leader. You can be a bystander or an upstander. Which one will you choose? Stand up for yourself. Stand up for your family. Stand up for your community and for your country. That’s what leadership is about.”

After the keynote address, the students broke out into groups for a series of activities and demonstrations.

Session 1: K-9 Police Demonstration
Session 2: Ninja Obstacle Course
Session 3: Post-It Activity
Session 4: Drunk Goggles Demo

The morning wrapped up with closing remarks in the auditorium. 


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