Student artists from across Calhoun and Gordon County took a visible stand against drugs on Monday evening at the Harris Arts Center, where their Red Ribbon Week posters were on display for parents and community members to admire.

The art reception was the first in a series of events celebrating Red Ribbon Week, which officially kicks off Wednesday and will continue through Halloween. The week-long advocacy effort attempts to raise awareness of drug use, drug prevention, and the problems caused by drug abuse in communities and lives across the country.

Gordon County E-911 Director and Drugs Don’t Work committee member Debbie Vance said the annual art reception is an event she loves to be part of each year because it allows local children to do their part in promoting a drug-free community. Getting children to get involved and to care, she said, is the most important part of her job as a member of the committee.

“This artwork is not just artwork. This artwork has a theme and it has meaning. We are the Drugs Don’t Work committee, and we want kids to start thinking at a very young age about making the right choices,” Vance said. “Please look carefully at this artwork and the message they are trying to deliver. It is so important.”

This year’s art show featured work from 15 different students, ranging from second graders to seniors. Each piece took a different approach to the theme “Send a Message, Drugs Don’t Work.”

Calhoun Primary School second grader Haylee Zavala Solis, whose work featured a rainbow, a unicorn and the words “Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Unicorns,” said she was happy her work was selected for the show. She also said she thought saying no to drugs was “really, really important.”

“People shouldn’t do drugs,” Solis said. “It’s bad for you.”

The artists whose works were featured in the reception are: Belwood Elementary School fifth grader Mia Vicente; Fairmount Elementary School fifth grader Georgia Holloway; Calhoun Middle School sixth grader Sam Dixon; Calhoun Primary School second grader Haylee Zavala Solis; W.L. Swain Elementary School fifth grader Emma Derrick; Sonoraville Elementary School third graer Jahir Taboada-Hernandez; Calhoun High School sophomore Emory Clavino; Gordon Central High School senior Nadiya Cagle; Red Bud Elementary School fifth grader Ali Richards; Calhoun Elementary School fourth grader Rhys Coleman; John L. Coble Elementary School sixth grader Samantha Gariepy; Tolbert Elementary School fourth grader Presley Smith; Ashworth Middle School eighth grader Adam Freeman; Sonoraville High School senior Madaline Roddy; and Red Bud Middle School seventh grader Isabelle Fantom.

Isabelle Fantom was the first place winner in the poster contest, followed closely by Ava Hall and Zachary Hill.

Mannington sponsored the art reception.

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