SOMERSET – Mt. Vernon Elementary School has been named the 2009 UNITE Elementary School Club of the Year for the Cumberland region.

The UNITE Excellence Award was presented during the second of three regional Operation UNITE “Piercing the Darkness of Drugs” Youth Summits held Wednesday, Sept. 16, in Somerset.

Mt. Vernon Elementary has had a UNITE Club since the 2006-07 school year and set a standard of excellence from the start. They are the only three-time winner of a UNITE Club of the Year award.

In terms of membership, Mt. Vernon has always been the largest elementary school club and have registered 240 students for the current year.

Last year’s club sponsors were Cindy McCullough, Billie Tankersley and Tammy Shaver.

To keep everyone informed about their projects club members published a newsletter of upcoming events. They also took their message to the public through a question-and-answer program on the “Chatter That Matters” talk show on WRVK radio and conducted a school-wide poster contest.

The group participated in the community’s March and Rally event against drugs, the high school’s “Wipe Out Drugs” toilet paper challenge, and conducted a memorial balloon launch during the annual UNITE Bowl football game.

Even kindergarten students are impacted by this club’s initiatives. Last September the youngest students conducted an anti-drug rally at the elementary school.

Because of the innovative programs conducted at the school, the UNITE Club sponsors were invited to present information on “Actively Teaching Students To Be Drug Free” and organizing an anti-drug club at the Diversity Conference held at Eastern Kentucky University in February.

Club representatives attend the monthly meeting of the Rockcastle County UNITE Coalition to report on current activities. They presented a skit and song during the coalition’s annual UNITE Appreciation Dinner and Community Awareness Celebration.

During the year the club conducted a “DWEyes” activity with the vision impaired goggles to draw attention to the dangers of driving impaired and participated in the “Mile of Pennies” challenge with proceeds earmarked for treatment.

Red Ribbon Week included a puppet show written and performed by one of the club’s sponsors, a door decorating contest and a host of “crazy day” activities.

For their mentoring project, the club performed a puppet show on the dangers of drugs and alcohol for their younger classmates.