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Cunningham drums up excitement for Red Ribbon Week
red ribbon week cunningham
Students at Cunningham Elementary School learn about the dangers of drugs through a musical lesson by world-renowned percussionist, recording artist and educator Michael Bayard. - photo by ALYSSON AREDAS / The Journal

Cunningham Elementary School built up anticipation for Red Ribbon Week with a literal drum roll on Friday with world-renowned percussionist and educator Michael Bayard, who used music to encourage students to choose a healthy lifestyle over drugs, tobacco and alcohol.

“We hope that this engages our students in some type of musical activity. It doesn’t even have to be drums, but we would like for them to get that opportunity,” said Assistant Principal Joaquin Galvan. “We want to connect them with a different activity as opposed to drugs.

“By doing so we’re already making a positive influence,” continued Galvan.

During Bayard’s “Drums not Drugs” presentation, students learned about different percussion instruments from around the world, the sounds and vibrations produced by each percussion instrument and how to achieve harmony within themselves.

“We’re here to celebrate a drug, alcohol and tobacco-free lifestyle and that’s my life,” said Bayard.

Bayard’s presentation at Cunningham kicked off Red Ribbon Week, which is a week dedicated to educating youth about the dangers of drugs through drug prevention activities. Throughout the week, Cunningham students will watch a presentation by the Turlock Fire Department, meet Modesto Nuts mascots, and participate in dress up days, such as crazy hat day, twin day and fashion disaster day.

Galvan said that students are also decorating their classroom doors to reflect this year’s Red Ribbon Week theme, “Respect Yourself, Be Drug Free,” and approximately 400 students are designing bags from Save Mart Supermarket, which will be used throughout Red Ribbon Week.

“They are decorating them with drug awareness slogans and messages,” said Galvan.

Cunningham is not the only Turlock Unified School District school site participating in Red Ribbon Week. Every school will host various assemblies with special guests and a different dress up day every day throughout the week. Additionally, students who are caught wearing their Red Ribbon Week bracelet will get a prize.  

At Crowell Elementary School, students in transitional kindergarten through third grade will participate in a poster decorating contest using the Red Ribbon Week theme, and students in fourth through sixth grade will write an essay on a quote that relates to Red Ribbon Week and how someone can achieve personal success in their life.

Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy will teach students about the history of Red Ribbon Week and dental health. There will also be “Walk to School Day,” which will be a day for parents and their children to meet at Soderquist Park before walking to school together.

Both Dutcher Middle School and Turlock Junior High School will welcome Kevin Laue, who was the first player missing a limb to play NCAA Division I Basketball. Through his story, students will learn about the importance of making positive choices and perseverance.

Turlock High School will be hosting a variety of activities throughout Red Ribbon Week, including “Minute-To-Win-It,” a sponge-cake walk, mummification games  and tricky obstacle courses. Pitman High school will present mini anti-drug rallies to students at Walnut Elementary School and Medeiros Elementary School.

TUSD will celebrate Red Ribbon Week all next week. For more information on Red Ribbon Week, visit