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Last updated: March 20. 2014 3:13PM - 945 Views
Aaron K. Nelson anelson@civitasmedia.com



Michelle Keathley (front row, far right) poses for a picture with her students in the James D. Adams Middle School's UNITE Club at a celebration on Tuesday honoring the group's distinction as “Club of the Year.”
Michelle Keathley (front row, far right) poses for a picture with her students in the James D. Adams Middle School's UNITE Club at a celebration on Tuesday honoring the group's distinction as “Club of the Year.”
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PRESTONSBURG — When energetic, excited middle school students direct their efforts to make a positive impact on their community, great things can happen, and that’s exactly what the anti-drug UNITE Club at James D. Adams Middle School has proven. In a special ceremony on Tuesday, the students were awarded the title of “Club of the Year” by Kentucky’s Operation UNITE.


The award comes on the heels of work the club did last year—in only its second year at the school. Students handed out candy for a safe trick-or-treat event, sent Christmas cards to recovering drug addicts at the Layne House Treatment Center, helped to promote a drug drop-off created at Prestonsburg City Hall with flyers, and hosted several activities during the nationwide drug awareness event known as Red Ribbon Week.


The students also took time to engage not only the primary issue of drug abuse, but also to help the incidental victims of addiction. A Christmas fundraiser helped the club send toys for all ages to kids at a regional spouse abuse shelter.


James D. Adams Middle School was one of 10 winners, among 118 UNITE Clubs across 26 Kentucky counties.


Club sponsor Michelle Keathley expressed her gratitude to the school administration for their cooperation in the club’s efforts. “Our principal and our staff here are very supportive about letting us get the kids together—a lot of these kids can’t do things after school, they don’t have the transportation… we get a lot of support.”


The goal, Keathley explains, is to not only teach UNITE Club members about drugs and alcohol, but to propagate that through the whole student body. “We want to educate them, and then let them pass that education along to their friends,” she says.


Ashley Shepherd, a coalition coordinator with Operation UNITE, was on hand to award the students a trophy and inform them they had won $750 in funds to create even bigger and better drug awareness programs and events. With prom season around the corner, one of their next scheduled activities is a cleanup of area schools.


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