Lead by example. Be helpful to someone. Nice is free. Pay it forward. This is a no bullying zone.

Students at the Western Wayne Middle School went on a hunt to find lids with these powerful words on them hidden throughout their school for just one of many activities in honor of Red Ribbon Week, which is observed from October 23 through October 31 each year.

Red Ribbon Week is a United States initiative for the education and prevention of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol abuse.

Both students in Western Wayne’s Middle and High Schools participated in a variety of events to celebrate Red Ribbon Week.

They included wearing red ribbons to symbolize being drug and alcohol free, wearing black and gold to show school pride for making positive choices, wearing mismatched socks to spread the message of “socking it to drugs,” and wearing boots to show the idea of “giving the boot to drugs.”

These different dress days were done throughout the week in both middle and high schools.

Prizes were given for homerooms who had the most participants among other activities to earn rewards.

The two schools also set aside October 24 to commemorate the life of Rachel Scott and celebrate Rachel’s Challenge. Rachel’s Challenge is a national program that promotes acts of kindness in memory of Rachel Joy Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine High School shooting.

Participating Western Wayne students wore orange on this day to pledge that they will always try to treat others with kindness just like Rachel did.

The CATS (Community Attitude Toward Success) Club lead this kindness and positive choices initiative in the middle school.

The group’s advisor is Western Wayne Middle School Guidance Counselor Lisa Jacques.

The group worked to create a wall in the cafeteria that displayed Rachel’s five principals: speak with kindness, start your own chain reaction, choose positive influences, dream big, and look for the best in others and appreciate their differences.

The CATS Club members also worked to cut out many paper hands for their classmates to add to the wall to show their pledge to be drug and alcohol free and encourage kindness among their classmates.

Many middle school students chose to write their name on a hand and make the pledge during Red Ribbon Week.

The students in the CATS Club felt very glad that their classmates stepped up to the challenge.

“It was really fun to cut out the hands,” Mary Jane Gilligan, sixth grade, said. “I think they helped students think about how important Rachel’s Challenge and Red Ribbon Week is.”

Mary Jane’s sister Emma Gilligan, 8th grade, felt excited to share the experience of being in CATS Club with her sister this year.

This is Emma’s third year in the club that works to promote a positive atmosphere at the school among other community-based projects.

“We do a lot of crafts and help the school and community,” Emma said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Another craft the middle school students did this year was to work to cut out the positive sayings to put on plastic lids that teachers hid throughout the middle school for students to find and turn in for prizes.

As students found the lids they put them up for display on a board in the cafeteria with the words reduce, reuse, and recycle on it. The board was an effort to promote the idea of spreading a positive, drug-free atmosphere in the middle school along with encouraging students to treat their environment with kindness.

Sixth grader Sami Sharp worked on the lids for the wall and feels glad that they helped her classmates learn a positive lesson.

“They tell us not to do drugs and to be kind to others who are having a bad day,” Sami said.

A final craft students in the CATS Club completed in preparation of Red Ribbon Week was to make over 600 red and orange ribbons for students to wear.

First year CATS Club member William Dwyer especially liked this project.

“My favorite part was putting all of the pins in for the red ribbons,” William said.

“I love how students who wear them support kindness and taking out bullying.”

Fellow first year CATS Club member Halle Smith thought promoting kindness was her favorite part of Red Ribbon Week because she has benefitted so much from the kindness shown to her by students in the CATS Club.

“It’s really fun and there are people there for you when you need help,” Halle explained. “I like being in the club because I get to make new friends and have fun.”

Three-year members Josh Mahnke and Zoey Goldman, both 8th graders, are happy to welcome new members to the club such as Halle and William.

Along with spreading kindness among club members, they are also glad to spread the overall message of being drug and alcohol free to their classmates in a large and visible way through events such as Red Ribbon Week.

“When our friends pledge that they are going to be drug free, we don’t have to worry about them using or abusing drugs,” Josh explained.

Zoey agrees and hopes that the students who participated in the events for Red Ribbon Week will continue to make positive choices in the future.

“I hope students learn to stop making bad choices,” she said. “They need to learn its bad for you and to start doing the right thing.”