Additional information about each of the seven UNITE Club of the Year winners from the 2014-15 school year.
Belfry High School (Pike County)
For the third time in four years, Belfry High School has been named a UNITE Club of the Year. The school previously received Club of the Year honors for activities conducted during the 2011-12 and 2013-14 school years.
During the 2014-15 school year, Belfry High involved 503 students as members of their UNITE Club.
Throughout the year, club members teamed up with other school organizations and community partners to develop a multi-faceted program called Operation KIDS (Keeping Individuals Driving Safely).
In addition, they partnered with SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) to raise funds for three national charities: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Operation KIDS was a year-long project involving the Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Department of Transportation, East Kentucky Broadcasting Corp., the school Youth Services Center, SADD and the school’s library team.
The project included:
• Taping public service announcements by students, coaches and the principal that aired on EKB radio the week of prom.
• Raising money to purchase new driver’s testing practice software.
• Purchasing driving impairment goggles that were used for numerous activities.
• Creating a library of videos on the dangers of drinking, drug use and other destructive decisions. These videos were shown at monthly club meetings as well as a school-wide assembly program.
• An on-going poster campaign to continually raise awareness throughout the school.
Cold Hill Elementary School (Laurel County)
Cold Hill Elementary has been named a UNITE Club of the Year – their first time they have received this honor. During the 2014-15 school year, Cold Hill had 43 student members of their UNITE Club.
Club members were very engaged in awareness campaigns throughout the year.
They partnered with the Laurel County Youth Leadership Council and the Laurel County ASAP Board to create posters regarding substance abuse, including a “Drugs are Garbage” project that had signs on each of the schools trash cans.
In addition, members assisted with the Makaylynn’s Mission booth at the World Chicken Festival to raise funds for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer; sponsored a “Wall of Heroes” to honor both veterans and those currently in the military; and participated in a sock drive for the school’s Family Resource Center.
Other projects included providing drug-free messages on snack bags distributed during testing, sponsoring a school assembly program, conducting an essay contest, and hosting a variety of Red Ribbon Week programs.
Hayes Lewis Elementary School (Leslie County)
Hayes Lewis Elementary has been named a UNITE Club of the Year – the third time they have received this distinction. The school previously received Club of the Year honors for activities conducted during the 2011-12 and 2009-10 school years.
During the 2014-15 school year, Hayes Lewis had 49 fourth- to eighth-grade student members of their UNITE Club.
Club members actively engaged their entire school with creative projects designed to raise awareness about substance abuse, promote self-esteem and help community organizations.
For their “Make A Difference Day” project – “The Power of One” – club members wrote positive messages on sticky notes and left them on other students’ lockers. After learning about a new drug-testing kit pilot program for parents called “Give Me A Reason,” students created a video that resulted in Appalachian HIDTA including Leslie County.
In addition, the club sponsored a drug dog demonstration for a school assembly, held a UNITE Game Night quiz competition as part of the school’s literacy night program, created an “I Am” wall to symbolize that brick by brick every attribute a person has helps them stand strong against drugs together.
Club members also wrote unique ways to say no to drugs on Christmas ornaments hung on a tree at the school, created a music video enacting ways to respond to various scenarios, conducted a Christmas food drive for the elderly (providing nearly 7,000 ounces of food), collected items for 50 boxes as part of Operation Christmas Child, collected items for the Perry County Safe House, participated in a Thanksgiving food drive, and held a mock trial about the dangers faced from smoking.
Other activities included public service announcements, a challenge to list 100 possible side effects of drugs, writing cards to veterans, and a host of Red Ribbon Week themed activities.
Meade Memorial Elementary School (Johnson County)
For the second year in a row, Meade Memorial has been named a UNITE Club of the Year. During the 2014-15 school year, Meade Memorial had 116 student members of their UNITE Club.
Club members were involved in several interactive projects to mentor students in kindergarten through third grade – including performing a puppet show showing the harmful effects of smoking.
For their community service, the club participated in “Make A Difference Day” by raising items for the local food pantry, made cards for residents of a retirement facility in Paintsville, and volunteered their time to clean up and weed the landscaping at the school.
The club sponsored a student assembly program, conducted a door decorating contest, and held many activities for Red Ribbon Week.
Rockcastle County High School (Rockcastle County)
For the seventh straight year, Rockcastle County High School has been a UNITE Club of the Year. During the 2014-15 school year, the school had 125 student members of their UNITE Club.
Many of the club’s successful programs were showcased to national leaders, first through students invited to participate in a Roundtable discussion with Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli and Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers and, second, when the school hosted Botticelli, Rogers and Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer to showcase UNITE’s “On The Move” drug prevention initiative.
The club participated in a number of community outreach/mentoring activities, including:
• Traveling to Mt. Vernon Elementary to discuss the dangers of drug abuse with fourth- and fifth-grade students.
• Holding a Red Balloon Memorial launch and annual “Wipe Out Drugs” toilet paper drive for treatment facilities in conjunction with the school’s UNITE Bowl football program.
• Discussing drug-related issues and initiatives on the local radio station’s weekly talk show.
• Teaching elementary school students good decision-making skills, anti-bullying tips, promoting honesty and courtesy through their “Rocket Readers” program involving athletes who are club members.
In addition, the club hosted six speakers for school assemblies and conducted numerous in-school awareness campaigns.
Rockcastle County Middle School (Rockcastle County)
For the seventh straight year, Rockcastle County Middle School has been a UNITE Club of the Year. During the 2014-15 school year, the school had 133 student members of their UNITE Club.
Club members continued many on-going drug awareness and prevention programs, and sponsored a strong drug prevention speaker/singer for a school-wide assembly.
Once again, members participated in the annual “Wipe Out Drugs” toilet paper drive during the UNITE Bowl football game, which benefits several treatment facilities.
In addition, they continued community projects such as “Pennies for Patients” at the local hospital, conducted a food drive for the local mission, and raised funds for the food pantry through the “Hunger Walk.”
Awareness activities included creating public service announcements for “Pinwheels for Prevention” and organizing a variety of Red Ribbon Week activities.
Stinnett Elementary (Leslie County)
Stinnett Elementary has been named a UNITE Club of the Year – their first time they have received this honor. During the 2014-15 school year, the school had 190 fourth- to eighth-grade student members of their UNITE Club.
Club members sponsored at least one school-wide event each month, including:
• Project Sober: Operation Blue Jay Art Contest – the winner had their design placed on a T-shirt which was then sold at school to raise money for the club.
• Pennies for Puppies and Kitties – received donated pet food, leashes, collars, toys and money for the local animal shelter.
• Earth Day assembly – included a speaker highlighting the importance of recycling and planting trees.
• Veterans – conducted a luncheon at the school, wrote thank-you cards and sent Christmas cards to those serving overseas.
• “Life With A Record” program for all middle school students.
• School-wide drug awareness assembly.
• Observed Red Ribbon Week with a variety of themed days.
For more information about Operation UNITE visit their website at www.operationunite.org.