Middle school participates in alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention campaign

Eighth grade student Tylar Arnold applies purple duct tape to Castaic Middle School Principal Bob Brauneisen during a Red Ribbon Week fundraiser. More than two dozen strips of tape held Brauneisen to a cement pillar near the campus quad. Austin Dave/The Signal
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In an effort to educate the youth and mobilize communities in the fight against drugs and substance abuse, schools across the country participated in Red Ribbon Week — an alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention awareness campaign that’s annually observed in October.

Castaic Middle School hosted multiple events this past week as educators, activists and students came together for multiple discussions and a fundraiser that each sought to promote drug- and vape-free activities.

This year’s theme in the Castaic Union School District was, “Life is your journey, travel drug-free,” district leaders said, adding the week had a particular focus on vape-free activities.

On Monday, the school welcomed the ACTION Family Counseling Foundation’s Jacy Pratt, who spoke on the dangers of drugs, the warning signs of addiction and how to get help if you or a friend are in need, office manager Jean Schwartz said. “Students had the chance to ask questions and discuss how (Pratt) helped those in need,” before Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies Bill Velek and Travis Sabadin shared the effects of vaping with students at an assembly the following morning.

The week concluded with Friday’s “Don’t get WRAPPED up in Drugs” fundraiser, which offered students, parents and teachers the chance to donate up to $5 for an opportunity to tape Principal Bob Brauneisen to a pillar in the middle of the quad during lunch time.

The fundraiser teaches the children empathy and creates awareness of the harm that drugs, alcohol and vaping can have, Brauneisen said, before students, staff and school volunteers rushed out to the quad to catch a view of the pillar that would serve as his home for the next hour.

With yellow, blue and red tape in hand, students eagerly strapped Brauneisen to the pole until everything from his knees to chest was covered.

Within minutes, the platform that held the principal up was kicked out beneath his feet, leaving Brauneisen levitating a few inches off the ground with nothing but a rainbow of duct tape to support him.

As he hung suspended in the air, the principal said he felt constricted, “but being taped to a pillar is just a small sacrifice for the message being taught.”

He added activities like these bring attention to the issue, “and let (students) know they can ask questions and have support when they need it.”

“My desire would be for more people to see this and donate on their directly to ACTION,” Brauneisen said, “because I know any amount of money they get will help them out enormously.”

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