Written by Devon Boen
Wolf Point High School students and staff, as well as local law enforcement, created an elaborate presentation on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and, more specifically, driving under the influence of any substance.
The presentation began with a speech by Wolf Point Police Department Chief Jeff Harada who gave some background on Red Ribbon Week. He told the story of Enrique Kiki Camerena, a drug enforcement administration agent who was tortured and killed by a drug cartel while working undercover in Mexico. The annual Red Ribbon celebration takes place in his honor.
Following Harada, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office deputies spoke about their real-life experiences handling fatal car crashes and drug- and alcohol-related deaths.
To gain the adolescent perspective, multiple students spoke and shared poems written about the possibility of dying early due to drugs and alcohol.
Toward the end of the ceremony, many students gathered on stage while Harada read each of their fake obituaries and described the nature of their untimely deaths while officers and a Grim Reaper-like creature covered the students in white sheets.
The last student standing was Mechiah Zilkoski who represented the student who chose not to engage in risky behaviors and fought back when the officers and “death” attempted to lay him down on stage.
In 2009 alone, there were over 10,000 drunk-driving related fatalities and over 1.4 million people nationwide were arrested for driving under the influence in 2010.
A 2010 study showed 13.7 percent of male youth ages 12 to 17 were drinkers and 13.5 percent of female youth were as well.
Research also indicated the highest rates of drinking and driving occurred in the 18 to 25 age range.
Often times, dry statistics don’t effectively convey the dire consequences of certain reckless decisions, but Wolf Point’s 2012 “Ghost Out” put real faces and stories on generally anonymous tragedies lumped into a number.
The Story Behind The Symbol
Enrique “Kiki” Camarena grew up in a dirt-floored house with hopes and dreams of making a difference.
Camarena worked his way through college, served in the Marines and became a police officer. When he decided to join the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, his mother tried to talk him out it. “I can’t not do this,” he told her. “I’m only one person, but I want to make a difference.”
The DEA sent Camarena to work undercover in Mexico investigating a major drug cartel believed to include officers in the Mexican army, police and government. On Feb. 7, 1985, the 37-year-old Camarena left his office to meet his wife for lunch. Five men appeared at the agent’s side and shoved him in a car. One month later, Camarena’s body was found in a shallow grave. He had been tortured to death.
Within weeks of his death in March 1985, Camarena’s Congressman, Duncan Hunter, and high school friend Henry Lozano, launched Camarena Clubs in Imperial Valley, Calif., Camarena’s home. Hundreds of club members pledged to lead drug-free lives to honor the sacrifices made by Camarena and others on behalf of all Americans.
These coalitions began to wear red badges of satin, red ribbons, as a symbol Camarena’s memory. The Red Ribbon Week campaign emerged from the efforts of these clubs and coalitions.