PRESTONSBURG – Clearfield Elementary School has been named the 2009 UNITE Elementary School Club of the Year for the Big Sandy region.

The UNITE Excellence Award was presented during the last of three regional Operation UNITE “Piercing the Darkness of Drugs” Youth Summits held Thursday, Sept. 17, in Prestonsburg.

Clearfield Elementary has had a UNITE Club since the 2006-07 school year. That first year the club was named a Regional Finalist for UNITE Club of the Year, despite having to compete against clubs with more experience.

Although one of the smallest elementary clubs in terms of members (just 14 students last year), they nevertheless have shown what concern and initiative can achieve under the leadership of sponsors Angie Jent, Tammy Cooper and Cindy Kerns. The school consistently reaches beyond their walls to involve the community.

Last year the UNITE Club created a “Cougar Store” for the third grade. Students earned “Cougar Cash” based on school attendance. Items in the store – including toys, office supplies, stuffed animals, clothing and knickknacks donated from the community – could then be purchased for gifts or other occasions. Many supplies and labor for the undertaking were provided by businesses and volunteers.

They initiated a “Travel Buddy” program with local business. Whenever someone traveled on business or for pleasure they were asked to bring back the “freebie” items from hotels they did not use to include in gift packages for families in need.

The school held a “Great Teams UNITED Against Substance Abuse” program with the Morehead State University men’s basketball team, ate dinner with the Chamber of Commerce where the guest speaker was the state secretary of education, and participated in the county’s “Repair Affair” project to spruce up a home in the community.

During the school’s “Taking Back Our Community” Outreach Night club members helped with babysitting, handed out water and directed guests to the meetings. The school has also hosted Neighbors UNITED and Court Watch trainings.

Other club projects included donating chair backs to store books and other items, collecting canned goods to help the needy, and having students use drunk driving goggles during their Fall Festival to show the dangers of drinking and driving.

Through a collaboration with AAA, Rowan County Champions for a Drug-Free Kentucky and the Rowan County Board of Education they were able to take 100 students to Kings Island in June.