Pine Level Community Shows Up For School’s Red Ribbon Week Parade

Pine Level Elementary held the school’s annual Red Ribbon Week Parade on Friday, Oct. 29. Leading the parade (from left) are Pine Level Mayor Jeff Holt, Pine Level Elementary School Counselor Abigail Stephenson, and Pine Level Town Commissioner Phil Pittman.

By: Robin Koppen
JCPS Communication Specialist

PINE LEVEL – Students, staff, and families of Pine Level Elementary School came out in a show of force for the school’s 8th Annual Red Ribbon Week Parade on Friday, Oct. 29.

Members of the school were joined by community members, local officials, members of the Johnston County Sheriff’s Department, and Pine Level Police and Fire departments for the parade.

Red Ribbon Week is the largest and longest-running drug prevention campaign in the United States. The first National Red Ribbon Celebration was launched in 1988 and continues to serve as a motivation to mobilize communities to educate youth about drugs and encourage participation in drug-free activities.

The Red Ribbon Week Parade was the brain-child of school counselor Abigail Stephenson, who debuted the school’s first parade in 2013.

“I wanted it to be meaningful and memorable,” Stephenson remarked excitedly. “It’s a huge decision to live your life drug-free.”

Pine Level Elementary first grade student Leighton Hickey (far left) joyfully shakes a noise maker during the school’s Red Ribbon Week Parade.

The parade is the grand finale of Pine Level Elementary’s Spirit Week. Each day consisted of a different theme leading up to the parade.

Monday’s theme was “Say BOO to Drugs” where students and staff wore Halloween get-ups.

Wednesday was “Drugs Can’t Find Me” and everyone was encouraged to wear camouflage.

Friday’s “Rally in Red” theme created a sea of red all over the school and around the community.

Deborah Baker, who has served Pine Level Elementary for the last 18 years, said, “The children need something like this to be excited about.”

Johnston County Public Schools staff member Alex Tapia (left) and Pine Level Elementary first grade student Matthew Rivera Sanchez (right) pull a float in the Red Ribbon Week Parade.

The excitement was palpable as students made their way from the gymnasium to outside for their march around the school. The students made posters and small floats to display as they paraded through town.

Some students and staff also donned ties to show support for their beloved Principal, Allen Sasser. October is also National Principals Month and Principal Allen Sasser loves to wear fun ties.

For Principal Sasser, his favorite thing about Red Ribbon Week is the annual parade.

“I enjoy seeing the students and community rallying together to show our students that they have support to stay drug-free,” said Sasser.

With the help of Pine Level students, their families, staff, and PTA members the parade is truly a community effort. This year’s Grand Marshal, Mayor Jeff Holt, mandated the parade to be an annual event.

Pine Level is clearly a community dedicated to teaching its young students how to live a drug-free existence.