Students rewarded for avoiding drugs

24/7 Bob Wojcieszak
Above are some of the 200 Hurricane High School students who have signed up for the school's 24/7 Club. Those who join pledge to abstain from drug use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They also agreed to submit to random drug testing. In the front row, second from left, is biology teacher Heather Reed, the club's advisor. Third from right is Principal Dick Campbell.

Wristband About once a month Hurricane Principal Dick Campbell lets all 24/7 Club members who are wearing their bracelets leave class early. It's one of several incentives to boost membership.

Reed, Miller, Campbell Heather Reed, Hurricane High School 24/7 Coordinator, Chelsea Miller, Hurricane High School 24/7 member and Dick Campbell, Hurricane High School Principal.

  • New Hurricane High club attracts student members who agree to random drug testing

    Evadna Bartlett
    for the Daily Mail

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    HURRICANE - It pays for Hurricane High School students to wear their 24-7 Club wristbands and to carry their membership cards.

    About once a month Principal Dick Campbell announces early dismissal from class, either at lunchtime or the end of the day, for those wearing the wristband.

    "They like that. There's a flurry of signups whenever he does that," club sponsor Heather Reed said.

    Since Campbell proposed the club in the fall of 2008 and biology teacher Reed volunteered to sponsor the anti-drug abuse organization, more than 200 students have joined.

    Most attend the monthly noon-hour meetings in her classroom, Reed said.

    "I have a small room; it's often wall-to-wall," she said.

    Occasionally she brings in speakers, but the meeting may be as simple as a pizza party.

    "It's supposed to be a rewards club. We try to have fun at the meetings," Reed said.

    And there are other rewards. A teacher may extend a homework deadline for members wearing the 24-7 wristband. Outside the school, participating merchants offer discounts, such as reduced movie admission, to students displaying the membership card.

    The price of membership? A pledge to remain drug free 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and to back it up by agreeing in writing to random drug screening.

    Campbell brought the concept with him to Putnam County after his experience while vice principal at St. Albans High School. Responding to the 2005 overdose deaths of two students in off-hours, the community backed the club.

    But prescription drug abuse is a problem across the state, including Putnam County, say Campbell, county officials and students like Hurricane High junior Lila Mangus, who is 24-7 Club president this school year.

    "It has been a problem in Putnam County," Mangus said. "I think more kids are getting a hold of drugs; it's becoming easier. So many kids use prescription drugs.

    "I just have a lot of conflict with that," Mangus said. "The club goes a long ways to getting the word out."

    Sophomore Heather Miller, who like Mangus has been randomly selected and tested for drugs at CAMC-Teays Valley, agrees. In addition to their in-school participation, both have spoken at other schools and community organizations about the problem, the club and its goals.

    "I just love that feeling that you may help," said Miller, who spoke at Hurricane Middle School where a 24-7 Club is now being organized.

    Earlier this month Mangus told Putnam County Rotarians about the club's efforts, including plans for providing medical lock boxes.

    Charleston Area Medical Center donated funds for 50 boxes with either combination or key locks that will be available with a $5 deposit for community residents to safeguard prescription medications.

    Already law enforcement officials had been asking residents to lock up medications, said Danielle Gillispie, county schools drug prevention and education coordinator.

    A lifelong Putnam resident with eight years experience in substance abuse therapy, Gillispie has been in the newly created school position since last March.

    "Our biggest concern right now is prescription drug abuse," she said. Teens in particular are using prescription drugs from the shelves of their parents, grandparents or even other kids, Gillispie said.

    The 24-7 club is partnering in providing the lock boxes. Members also are demonstrating that teens can have a good time and can deal with their problems without abusing drugs, she said.

    "They are willing to tell others they are drug free and OK with that."

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