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Schools Mark Red Ribbon Week
The focus was zoned in on health and making smart choices around the campuses of the Escalon Unified School District recently, as the schools marked Red Ribbon Week from Oct. 25 through 29.

A variety of events, from jog-a-thons to dances, K9 visits to tree plantings, made up the busy week and gave students the chance to pledge to be drug free.

"Red Ribbon Week is about making good choices, healthy choices, strong choices, smart choices in our lives," Farmington Elementary School principal Bob Amato told students gathered for the planting of a rose bush, a gift from the fifth grade class that will leave the rural school for El Portal next year.

All classes at the K-5 school gathered for the Thursday afternoon tree planting, outside the classrooms at the front of the school along Highway 4.

"Planting this rose bush is kind of like your life," Amato explained. "If you plant it in the right place, take care of it, give it food, it's healthy and it grows, it's beautiful ... the same with your life."

Several fifth graders offered their thoughts on why it's important to stay drug free, encouraging their young counterparts to maintain that pledge. They also each had a turn to help plant the tree, taking a shovel full of dirt and placing it on the roots.

Amato said those fifth graders can come back to Farmington in the years ahead and see their rose bush, keep track of its progress and remember what it stands for.

At Escalon High School, special lunchtime activities were hosted and included a musical performance by senior LilLana Cajias in the quad on Thursday, in addition to some fun games like 'Haunted Chairs' planned as well.

Red Ribbons were handed out on Monday in addition to cards for free pizza, students signed the Drug Free pledge banner on Tuesday and enjoyed some candy, handed out after school on Friday.

On the campus at Dent, the jog-a-thon put the focus on health and students also had a chance during their Friday lunch to gather with principal Kendra Helsley for a dance party, with music ranging from the twist to the bunny hop, students and teachers alike decked out in '50s attire.

Every school marked the week in some way and officials agree that the more information that is provided regarding the dangers of drug use and abuse, the more effective the message of Red Ribbon Week is for students to hear.

"Grow, and live, and you're beautiful, that's what Red Ribbon Week is really all about," Amato noted. "The choices you make ... make you."