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Red Ribbon Week October 13, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Teaching.
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The first year I taught at my school, I was informed that my class needed to make a poster for Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon what? Something about “Saying no” to drugs.

I was used to the DARE program that my sons attended in middle school. Never mind that by high school all the stoners wore their DARE t-shirts proudly.

The teacher in the classroom next to me had an adorable “Bugs Not Drugs” poster outside her door. I so love bugs, but THAT idea was taken. A first grade classroom had “Hugs not Drugs” featuring little children with outstretched hands. Can you say insufferably cute? So what was I going to do? One student in my class loved pugs….no, I don’t think so.

When I worked as substitute, I used to take pictures of interesting bulletin boards or make notes when I saw cool stuff. I rummaged around and found a poem I’d seen in a high school classroom. I reread it and thought third graders could relate to it as well, as it’s all about peer pressure. It’s called Jellybeans Up Your Nose.

Not only did my third graders so “get it,” but they made a great poster and won the poster competition. When we talk about drugs in third grade, most kids think cigarettes. There are a few kids who confide that their parents drink beer. One boy confessed that his mother drank something called a Bloody Mary, not to be confused with the specter that haunts school bathrooms. I tell students that when it comes to alcohol, it’s all about moderation, so they don’t go home and give their parents a hard time. But I have  students whose lives have been torn apart by drugs and are all too familiar with crack cocaine and syringes. It makes for one very interesting conversation.

My students loved drawing pictures of the children with Xs for eyes and anime princesses with cigarettes dangling from their lips.

Jellybeans Up Your Nose

Johnny stuck jellybeans up his nose,
That’s a pretty dumb thing to do.
But the other kids said, “Hey Johnny’s real cool!
Let’s put beans in our noses too.”

Well, a kid can’t breathe with beans up his nose,
‘Cause they get all stuck inside.
So Johnny and the kids, well, I hate to say it,
But they coughed and they choked and they died.

That’s a pretty grim tale, I must admit,
And it may not all be true.
Still when somebody cool does something dumb.
You don’t have to do it too.

The origin of Red Ribbon Week is actually a pretty grim tale itself. To find out all about it, go to Red Ribbon Week on Wikipedia. It’s an interesting read. And it’s all true.


1. Christine - October 13, 2009

Hey Jan,
I know you changed “breath” to “breathe” before, but I think this copy slipped by. Great poem.

I fixed it yet again. I obviously had a jellybean up my nose when I copied the poem. 🙂 Jan


2. elissestuart - October 14, 2009

When Sam entered Kindergarten there was huge push for Red Ribbon week. His homework was all about saying no to drugs…really serious stuff. A week or so after Red Ribbon week, Sam got a fever and needed Tylenol…you can guess what’s coming…we practically had to sit on him to get the medicine in. He wasn’t taking any drugs.
IMHO – The program was overkill for short people who had been barely potty trained for 2 years.

Elisse – I bet you bought that Tylenol at a DRUG STORE too! Jan


3. misscheese - October 15, 2009

3 things:

1) DARE – I went through this in elementary school. I’m proud to say I’ve never done drugs. Been around them, yes. Participated, no. Did this have anything to do with the DARE program? Doubtful. Highly doubtful considering the only thing I remember from the program was my “really cool” t-shirt.

2) I had the thought today…first time EVER…oh, I wish I taught second grade. The babies. Then I realized that my sophomores are, in fact, babies. Just incredibly ANNOYING.

3) Thanks for the poem 🙂 I’m going to have to share it with my babies 🙂

Hey, just to make it clear. I teach third graders. There’s a big difference. When third graders speak, unlike second graders, they don’t spit teeth. 🙂 Jan


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