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Clayton schools to hold anti-drug parade

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Much like the "Hello Dolly!" musical's title character, officials at Sequoyah Middle School said they have a goal, and a drive, and they want the community to hold its head up high, against drug abuse, "before the parade passes by" this weekend.

The middle school is partnering with seven other county schools, most of which are in Riverdale, to hold a Red Ribbon Week parade, on Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m., according to Kim Smith, Sequoyah's bookkeeper, and a member of its Red Ribbon Week committee.

Smith said the parade will begin at Riverdale Middle School, which is located at 400 Roberts Drive, in Riverdale, and will work its way down to Sequoyah Middle School. According to Smith, the parade will serve as an aggressive way of raising awareness, among members of the community, about drug abuse. "We're seeing that drugs are so in-your-face these days," she said. "What we wanted was something that would be an 'in-your-face,' stay drug-free campaign."

Smith said the parade is designed to be a community awareness event, with the focus being on the dangers of drug abuse. "The purpose of the parade is to bring the community together, and to teach parents, as well, [about] drug abuse."

Every year, the week of Oct. 23-31 is designated as Red Ribbon Week, according to the National Family Partnership's web site, www.nfp.org/. The web site states that the observance began after U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique Camarena was murdered by drug traffickers, in 1985.

The theme for Red Ribbon Week this year, is "I Am Drug-Free," according to the web site, which lists the purpose for Red Ribbon week as being "an ideal way for people and communities to unite and take a visible stand against substance abuse."

Sequoyah Middle School's Red Ribbon Week Committee chairperson, teacher Janice Scott, said she got the idea for the parade from the City of Savannah, where she used to live. Every year, there is a large Red Ribbon Week parade to kick off the week, she said.

The route for Sequoyah's parade will begin at Riverdale Middle School, head down Roberts Drive to Lamar Hutcheson Parkway. Parade participants will then turn right onto Lamar Hutcheson Parkway, and head toward Valley Hill Road. The route then turns right onto Valley Hill Road, and concludes at the campus shared by Harper Elementary School and Sequoyah Middle School.

Participants, including the school's partners in education, and the marching bands from Charles R. Drew, Mt. Zion, and Riverdale high schools, will begin lining up at Riverdale Middle School at 8 a.m., according to Smith.

Harper, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Riverdale elementary schools, and Riverdale Middle School, are also expected to participate, according to Scott. Scott said Riverdale Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon, and officials from the Clayton County Police Department, Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services, and the Clayton County Sheriff's Office, as well as the Riverdale police and fire departments are expected to participate.

She added that School Superintendent Edmond Heatley, Clayton County Board of Education Chairperson Alieka Anderson, and School Board Member Jessie Goree are scheduled to kick off the parade with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

After the parade, Smith and Scott said, there will be a "WarriorFest" tailgating celebration, on the school's football field, with music, and vendors, ranging from jewelers to health-care providers. The "WarriorFest" is scheduled to last from 8 a.m., to 6 p.m. For more information about the parade, or "WarriorFest," call (770) 515-7524.