Rialto Schools Go All Out With Red Ribbon Pride

We got a chance to ride along in a plain white van with judges and dignitaries as Local Rialto Schools vied for a chance to place in the top three in their region (North, Central & South) to show off their school spirit and celebrate the benefits of living a drug free life. We rode in the Southern Region van this year and had the pleasure of joining Rialto Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Cuauhtemoc Avila, Board President Dina Walker, Director of Communications Syeda Jafri, Police Lt. Dean Hardin and Rialto Unified School District Security Chief Leary who drove us around.

Carter High School students greet the judging vehicles with cheers – Photo Provided by Rialto USD

Dr. Avila stated, “I echo our Board of Education’s sentiments that participating in this annual drug-free contest makes all our students, staff and parent-volunteers winners, but to keep the contest fair, I wanted make sure that each of the schools; the north, central and south sections, had their own sets of scoring. Again, the feedback from the judges was positive, and reinforces my faith that great things continue to happen at our schools. It was another proud moment to show the community that our schools have their focus on safety and promoting a drug-free lifestyle for our students.”

Each year has a Nationwide theme and this year the theme is “Your future is key, so stay drug free”. Each school that we saw that participated really took the theme and turned it into a visual representation of the overall message. Some schools really went all out which included a miniature version of District Superintendent Dr. Cuauhtemoc Avila (Garcia Elementary) a life size game of Life (Jehue Middle) or even tombstones of celebrities who died from drug and alcohol abuse (Milor High).

Some schools like Simpson Elementary you could see from a mile away and they made sure to get the judges out of the van and on their feet as they danced the Drug Free theme. Rialto Unified is one of the few school districts that has such a strong level of participation because of the importance that the District puts behind the annual event.

First place winners, Hughbanks Elementary School – Photo Provided by Rialto USD

“For years, Red Ribbon Week, here in Rialto, has become a pretty big deal, and that’s great,” said Rialto Police Lieutenant, Dean Hardin. “It was a fantastic commemoration and I was proud of the way that our students, led by staff and parents, participated. Drug use is a real issue, a serious issue for the younger generation and along with addiction, it can lead to anti-social behavior and lack of focus on education. The Police Department was happy to participate and we thank the District for making sure students understand the dangers of substance abuse.” As the South judging van pulled away from Simpson Elementary Lt Dean Hardin could be heard saying out the van window “Be Drug Free” and each time he said it the whole school repeated the mantra.

Schools earned points from 1 to 10 based on creativity, visibility and message. Judges were warned against giving out 10’s too freely as to help district officials from having to deal with tons of tie’s in the point totals. The Red Ribbon Decorating Contest ended in three-way ties for all three places — first, second and third — as well as a “Spirit” award initiated by Dr. Avila. Prize money is $1,000 for first; $750 for second; and $500 for third. The new “Spirit” award is also $500. Cash awards go to each school and are discretionary for each school.

The winning schools are:

1st Place Winners

Northern: Hughbanks Elementary School – $1,000

Central: Casey Elementary School – $1,000

Southern: Garcia Elementary School – $1,000

2nd Place Winners

Northern: Carter High School – $750

Central: Henry Elementary School – $750

Southern: Jehue Middle School – $750

3rd Place Winners

Northern: Kolb Middle & Kordyak Elementary Schools – $500

Central: Bemis Elementary School– $500 

Southern: Kelley & Simpson Elementary Schools– $500

Honorable Mentions

Milor High School – $250

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