Whittier, CA – Hundreds of Rancho Santa Gertrudes students danced, cheered and chanted “say no to drugs” at the Santa Fe Springs Red Ribbon parade on Oct. 26, which celebrated a drug-free and healthy community.

City officials, servicemen, students and business owners cruised the streets at the annual parade, which this year championed “YOLO (You Only Live Once). BE DRUG FREE.” Los Nietos Superintendent Jonathan Vasquez and District Teacher of the Year Desiree Chavez also participated, driving in a convertible and whipping kids into a frenzy along the parade route by tossing fruit snacks in their direction.

“This is an event that definitely brings the community together,” Rancho parent Michelle Sanchez said. “It’s exciting for the kids to see their older friends in the parade and have it reinforced that staying in school and away from drugs will allow them to succeed in life.”

The parade, which included the Santa Fe High School band and drill team, began at the Santa Fe Springs Lakeview Center where buses transported participating students, including the entire Rancho sixth grade class which marched during the festivities. Lake Center Middle School as well as neighboring Jersey Avenue Elementary School students were also in attendance during the celebration that culminated by passing the Rancho campus where kids lined the streets.

“For our young kids to see middle and high school students take a stand against drugs is a great example for them to follow,” Rancho first grade teacher Christina Ayala said. “This ties into a lot of what my class is learning as they were able to see real-life police officers and community workers. It’s a special day that connects us to parents, former students and families.”

The parade takes over the streets of Santa Fe Springs each October in honor of Red Ribbon Week, an awareness campaign that began in 1988 to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities. Los Nietos hosts several programs throughout the year that help strengthen the District’s Healthy Los Nietos initiative.

“This is an event where we get a chance to celebrate with and educate our students,” Vasquez said. “It’s a fun experience for our kids to interact with city officials and older students, and they come away with a reinforced knowledge that we are a community committed to healthy living.”


110216_LOSNIETOS_REDRIBBONPARADE1: Rancho Santa Gertrudes students cheer the Santa Fe Springs Fire Department during the Santa Fe Springs Red Ribbon parade on Oct. 26.

110216_LOSNIETOS_REDRIBBONPARADE2: A Lake Center athlete dances in the street during the Santa Fe Springs Red Ribbon parade that celebrated a drug-free and healthy community.

110216_LOSNIETOS_REDRIBBONPARADE3: Rancho Santa Gertrudes Principal Octavio Perez, far left, and first grade teacher Christina Ayala, far right, pose with students at the conclusion at the Santa Fe Springs Red Ribbon parade on Oct. 26.