Students at Baton Rouge Magnet High School celebrated the Great American Smokeout on Wednesday with balloon releases during lunch breaks at the school, said Bridgette Fortenberry, who teaches English at the school.

As part of their Smokeout activities, students had the opportunity to release black balloons for family and loved ones they have lost to tobacco-related illnesses or yellow balloons for those still smoking, said Fortenberry, who sponsored the event with Linda D’Armond and I CARE specialist Maureen Laurent.

The I CARE Program provides prevention education to students in the areas of alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, violence, and crisis response and management, Fontenotte said. I CARE provides parish schools with giveaways, posters, literature and suggestions to create an effective campaign. The I CARE program director is Gwynn Shamlin.

Students chose a balloon release for the Smokeout to keep the event low cost, Fontenotte said, and because it makes a moving display. They also opted not to attach strings or ribbons to produce less waste and to avoid the possibility that balloons would get caught in power lines or trees.

“We are looking to discover an even more environmentally sound method to continue to celebrate the lives of loved ones affected by tobacco usage,” she said.

Between 50 to 100 students either released a balloon or answered a question related to the effects of tobacco usage or secondhand smoke, raising about $50 in donations that the High School Team Spirit Club will match, sending $100 to the American Cancer Society. .

The Great American Smokeout campaign at Baton Rouge Magnet High School is done in conjunction with resources from The American Cancer Society and the East Baton Rouge Parish School System I Care program.