D99 takes a new approach to Red Ribbon Week


Kassem Ossman

Students shared why they chose to stay away from substances on a anonymous form.

As Red Ribbon Week came to an end, there was a Mustang Way lesson on Oct. 18th, talking about the reasons students at D99 decide not to do drugs. The video was viewed in second period and brought different perspectives into the “99 reasons not to do drugs.”

In the past, conversations during Red Ribbon Week have focused on the consequences of drugs as reasoning for students to avoid substances. This year, D99 took a new angle and focused on the positives of avoiding substance abuse.

Student Assistance Program Coordinator, Antonia Stamatoukos, talked about her intentions for this lesson.

“So what we really wanted to do was [have] North and South together come up with a new prevention theme, you might be familiar with ‘most teens’ which is something we have used before. This year we launched a new campaign called ‘99 reasons.’ The whole idea behind that is that there are more than 99 reasons to avoid using substances, what’s your reason?” Stamatoukos said.

She continued to explain the reasoning behind the new change.

I have a history of addiction in my family & I refuse to continue the ‘legacy’”

— Anonymous

“We just wanted to create this Mustang Way lesson to just introduce it and also put it out there that there may be students who are using substances so we understand what is happening. Even if you are using substances, there are still reasons to avoid using them. Students that I meet with who do use [substances] still have reasons why they are not using as regularly or they are trying to taper off substances, so we just want to put the awareness out there that there are reasons that students who use and don’t use might avoid substance abuse,” Stamatoukos said.

Students who watched the video also talked to their classes about their own reasons for why they choose to not do drugs. Senior Ashley James participated in the Mustang Way lesson.

Antonia Stamatoukos

“I thought it was nice how they shifted their viewpoint, originally they didn’t really address that students might have substance abuse, but now they are more open about it, but I feel they didn’t provide resources that a student who deals with substance abuse could use,” James said.

Not only students noticed the change in perspectives, teachers also saw the change in focus when it came to substance abuse.

P.E. teacher Stephanie Henrikson talked about her thoughts on the way D99 looked at drug awareness.

I want to stay physically and mentally healthy”

— Anonymous

“I think the campaign at D99 is really important because it really shifts the perspective in which we look at subsistence use and abuse. Rather than traditional drug programs that talk about all the ‘nos’ and ‘don’ts’ that teach students not to do, we’re focusing on a different lens and saying ‘what are all the positives in your life and in your future that you want to hold on to’ and I think shifting to look at the positives is a wonderful thing,” Henrikson said.

Stamatoukos also talked about Red Ribbon Week and the lesson.

“This time of year is Red Ribbon Week so it kind of matched up perfectly with our new campaign but I think the timing couldn’t have been better, with everyone trying to adjust to what normal was or the closest thing to it so one coping mechanism is substances and with students coming back in the building we are seeing higher rates of use and putting it out there that their are reasons not to use,” Stamatoukos said.

Resources for students were sent by email but a Google Document was created for students who didn’t see the email to make sure as many people saw the resources for students who are either going through issues of substance abuse or know someone with the same issues.