Home and business owners in Pine waved to students from Pine Strawberry Elementary School as they walked from the school, down the Beeline Highway and through residences to promote drug awareness.
It was not just a day for students to get out of reading, writing and arithmetic.
"The Red Ribbon Walk is a way for students to bond as a group with the older student helping to motivate the younger ones," said parent Margaret Bollard as she waited in a north Pine neighborhood with water for the walkers.
"I was raised with a reverence for my health and physical activity deters drug use."
The whole school completed the walk.
"A few wanted to ride in the van, but after a discussion with their peers they decided not to," said teacher Nancy Kane who coordinated the event.
The walk is the culmination of many days of activities that highlight the struggle some people face as a result of their addictions to drugs or alcohol, according to principal Mike Clark.
Deputy Darrell Stubbs, Gila County Sheriff's Office school resource officer, provided biweekly anti-drug awareness education activities to students in grades K-8. The Pine Strawberry Fire Department provided several presentations to students on Life and Safety Awareness, including substance abuse prevention. The department's emphasis this past week has been on safe practices while walking along a roadway.
"I protect my kids so much," said home-school mom Jody Brown, while she and her children, Cassidy and Nicholas, dressed in red, waited to wave to their older brother as he walked by.
Brown home schooled all three children until this school year when the family moved to Pine from California.
Shawn, a fourth grader, is going to public school for the first time. He loves going to school, his mom said, but he was not aware of drugs before Red Ribbon week began.
The program has had a positive influence because he came home with questions. He was saying that drugs are bad and we should not use them, Brown said.
People who have stopped in the Pine Post Office recently may have seen the posters made by Kane's kindergartners. Patrons of Pine Verde, Mogollon Steakhouse and Nifty ‘50s restaurants have had their meals served on laminated place mats students made promoting the anti-drug message of Red Ribbon week.
This week, Payson High School students will be hosting their own Red Ribbon activities. Today, Tuesday, they will be wearing their clothes inside out for "Turn Drugs Inside Out" and there will be an overdose demonstration by Payson Regional Medical Center and Lifestar Ambulance. On Wednesday, the Students Against Destructive Decisions Club will host a "Fatal Vision Obstacle Course" with free pizza.