• November 22, 2019

Superintendent Kicks off Red Ribbon Week - Odessa American: ECISD

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Superintendent Kicks off Red Ribbon Week

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    Sharing a story about his own experience losing a friend to alcohol abuse in high school, superintendent Dr. Scott Muri addresses the importance of programs like Red Ribbon Week, and urges all students to steer clear of dangerous substances.

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2019 3:15 pm

Kicking off Red Ribbon Week, Ector County ISD Superintendent Scott Muri told a story of the importance of making good choices and looking to the future.

Muri was a junior in high school and they had won an away football game against a rival high school. After winning the game, they decided to go back to their hometown and ended up at one of their friends’ houses to spend the night. There were about 15 or 20 of them, he said.

“We got to our friend’s house, spent the night, had a good time, got up the next morning and we all went our separate ways. That afternoon, the phone rang at my house and it was the mother of a friend of mine,” Muri said. “She was looking for her son because her son hadn’t come home yet from that Friday night football game.”

The mother knew her son was supposed to be with his friends throughout the night, but she was a little worried because he hadn’t come home yet.

“Actually,” Muri said, “he didn’t spend the night with us so we started making a few more phone calls and we realized that nobody knew where he was, so they called law enforcement officers and first responders and a search began. Later that evening, they found him in the bottom of a ravine because after the game he decided to make a stop and he stopped at a store we called the Red Dot because the Red Dot was a place that was known for selling alcohol to underage minors.”

The friend decided to stop and pick something up for “all of us to enjoy,” Muri said.

“But unfortunately, he never made it. He started to partake, so his hand was full as he was driving and he never made it to us. That next week, we had his funeral. We had his funeral actually in the gymnasium of our high school and I’ll never forget that experience, as a kid and even today as a superintendent, I’ll never forget that experience,” Muri added.

“His mom and dad lost their oldest son. We lost one of our best friends,” he said.

And the community lost someone who never had a chance to contribute to the community’s growth and development.

“… It’s a good reminder of lives that were lived and lost too quickly because we made bad choices …,” Muri said.

He said he didn’t know if any of the students had that experience, but he wouldn’t wish it upon anybody.

“The hurt and pain stays with you forever,” Muri said. “When you have an opportunity in your life to make choices, this superintendent encourages each of you every day to make the smart choice, the wise choice because the world deserves the gifts and opportunities that you have to give to us, both now and forever so don’t deprive our world by making bad choices with your life.”

Red Ribbon Week is the national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of drug use and abuse. The Red Ribbon as a symbol of drug prevention began in 1985 in response to the murder of Drug Enforcement Agency Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.

Today the Red Ribbon Week campaign is the vehicle by which communities and schools across the nation spread positive messages that reinforce the idea that life is better and brighter without drugs and alcohol, a news release said.

Held in the parking lot of the ECISD administration building, the ceremony included a proclamation read by Mayor David Turner, messages emphasizing the importance of living a drug-free life and student performances.

The theme this year is “Send a Message” and the message is “Just Say No.” However, Gale Pond Alamo STEAM Academy is having “Just Say Yes” to fun, safe life choices campaign.

ECISD Police Department Chief Todd Hiner read the history of Red Ribbon Week.

Hiner said the week was inspired by the life and work of Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. A bust of Camarena was displayed, as well.

“Camarena yearned to make a difference from a very early age,” Hiner said. “After earning a college degree in criminal justice and serving as both a U.S. Marine and police officer, Camarena joined the DEA so he could help fight illegal drugs.”

“In 1985, while working undercover in Mexico, Camarena was kidnapped and killed by drug traffickers. The 37-year-old special agent was survived by his wife, Geneva, and their three children,” Hiner said.

“Responding to his murder and the horrific events of drugs on our society citizens in Camarena’s hometown of Calexico, Calif., began wearing red ribbons. The trend took hold throughout the country and the 1988 Congress officially proclaimed the last week of October as Red Ribbon Week. Now every October, American children, parents and educators unite to take a stand for a drug free land,” he said.

Sara Hinshaw, Midessa Community Alliance Coalition coordinator, said her organization is here to help change policies that influence social norms related to substance use and misuse,  underage alcohol use, tobacco, nicotine products, marijuana and prescription drug misuse.

Hinshaw said the work Camarena did and the reason he is honored are the biggest reasons why the Midessa Community Alliance Coalition does what it does.

This week, Hinshaw said, is also a time when parents can start a conversation with their child about substance use, send a message to them and set expectations for them.

Odessa, TX

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