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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Seeing Red?

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Jana Klopsch

PTA volunteers support Red Ribbon Week. Photo courtesy of Bonneville Junior High.

by Carol Hendrycks    

If you happened to drive by Bonneville Junior High School during the week of Oct. 23, students, parents and faculty had decorated the school and dressed it in red to promote Red Ribbon activities. This was a week of events geared to inform youth and community about drug awareness, hear about prevention education and the consequences of drug use. Schools all over the country take part in this national awareness campaign, helping youth and their families take a stand against drug abuse, learn to make healthy choices and encourage informed child-parent discussions about drug use.

They started off that Monday with a sobering school assembly with guest speakers Brent and Colleen Farr, local residents with a tragic life lesson they have learned to live with. “You could hear a pin drop,” said PTA event organizer Gail Davis. “Their discussion delivered an inspired message about drug awareness that the kids not only heard but they could physically see.” 

The Farrs displayed pictures of Brent as a student at Bonneville, an All-American teen those many years ago who was an outgoing class president, athletic and a kid with a brilliant future ahead. Fast forward to after college when he was married with a 13-year-old son, when a cocaine overdose tragedy struck, leaving Brent with brain and nerve damage that is similar to a spinal cord injury. He suffered permanent damage 11 years ago, leaving him a quadriplegic, dependent on his wife, son and a wheelchair, who help in his everyday survival. Once the students noted his son Thomas was present at the assembly, questions began to fly. They wanted to know what that was like for him to see his dad in that condition since he was just a teen himself then. Students engaged with and related to Thomas and how as a teen boy he felt those years ago. 

The message had a profound and personal impact on the students. Kimerly Hunsaker, student body officer advisor said, “I think realizing how many people die from these kinds of things made an impact on me and other people, not to do drugs.”

As part of the week’s activities, the students also signed a pledge during lunch on Tuesday to be drug and alcohol free. Red rubber bracelets were given to each student and they were asked to wear them all week. In doing so, students who were found wearing their bracelets would receive a treat. The PTA volunteers had a lot of fun roaming the halls before school handing out treats to the students. 

On Wednesday, the seventh- and eighth-grade students got very competitive. They engaged in a bean-bag toss game during their lunch breaks. The students had so much fun earning points each time they got their bean bag in the hole. The eighth grade won. And on Thursday, everyone enjoyed eating red snow cones to celebrate a great week. As snow cones were handed out, the students were reminded that they were expected to be drug free and to make good choices throughout their entire lives.

Principal Rocky Lambourne of Bonneville Junior High School wrapped the week’s activities and celebrating drug prevention messages by saying, “The PTA did a great job with our Red Ribbon Week message. The assembly with Brent and Colleen Farr set the stage for a great week, especially with their son’s spontaneous participation in the assembly. The message was clear and close to home — make good choices the first time and every time. Just say no.” The students reacted strongly to his point of view, which set the stage for a week of successful and positive results.