The program began in 1988 in response to the killing of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena.
For the first time in 29 years, the Burlington School District's Red Ribbon Week kick-off ceremony did not take place at Grimes Elementary School.
This year, that honor went to Corse Elementary School.
Grimes Principal Joe Rector said the change was due to a request made by Dianna Todd, a social worker at Corse who previously worked at Grimes and wanted to share the kick-off among the school buildings to let other students enjoy the experience.
It wasn't McGruff the Crime Dog's first time at Corse, however.
In earlier years of Red Ribbon Week, which began in 1988 in response to national outrage over the cartel killing of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, McGruff and others from the Burlington Police Department would visit each of the elementary schools to help kick off the week whose goal is to raise awareness of the destruction caused by drugs in the U.S.
"I remember back in the day when Corse School was the very first school we did," McGruff told the students. "We went around to all the grade schools. There were quite a few of them back in those days, but it was always a pleasure to be part of the Red Ribbon kick-off."
While Red Ribbon Week has been around for 30 years, drug trends have changed in the U.S. In the 1980s, it was crack cocaine. With the '90s came the rise of club drugs and crystal meth, which remains a problem today. But with the opioid epidemic raging on throughout the U.S., McGruff cautioned students about prescription drugs.
"Medicines were invented a long long time ago to make you well when you're sick. But if you misuse any kind of medicine, it can make you sick when you're well," McGruff said.
It may have been their first Red Ribbon Week ceremony, but one couldn't tell by how Corse students behaved.
They sat quietly on the blacktop next to the school while hearing from guest speakers, danced along to music played by the Burlington High School band and sung by the BHS choir, and matched Burlington Mayor Shane McCampbell's enthusiasm for just saying "no" in the event they should be asked to do something unhealthy, such as use tobacco, drink alcohol or take drugs.
Corse Principal Mark Taylor wants those students to continue living up to their potential.
"This week is very important for us, because as you all know, drugs are a very bad thing," he told his students. "And we want to keep you off drugs for your whole life because that'll let you get ahead, that'll let you make a lot of money someday. You're going to do great things. Drugs just get in the way of that for people."
Superintendent Pat Coen, who kept students engaged before the ceremony with an animated tale of an encounter between Taylor and a raccoon, read the children's proclamation for Red Ribbon Week, which stressed the importance of making good choices.
The students also heard from Madi Reynolds, who was crowned Miss Burlington this past summer. She told the students about how to resist peer pressure, such as saying no and explaining the damaging effects drugs have on the brain and body, reminding them it's illegal and by telling them drugs can get them into a lot of trouble.
She also told them about what it means to leave a legacy.
"A legacy is how you want to be remembered and the mark you leave somewhere," Reynolds said. "The only person in charge of the legacy you leave is you. The good part about that is if you don't like the legacy you're leaving, you can change it. It's never too late."
Once the speakers were finished, McCampbell and city councilwoman Linda Murray cut the red ribbon.
Red Ribbon Week will continue through Tuesday. Schools in Burlington and West Burlington will celebrate the week with dress-up days and door-decorating contests. The West Burlington School District marked the start of Red Ribbon Week with an assembly Tuesday. It will not have its Red Ribbon Week parade this year.
The theme of this year's Red Ribbon Week is "Life is Your Journey, Travel Drug Free."
This week also is National School Bus Safety Week, and a good time to show appreciation for bus drivers.