PRESTONSBURG – Whitesburg Middle School has been named the 2009 UNITE Middle School Club of the Year for the Kentucky River 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.

Whitesburg Middle was one of the 34 original UNITE Clubs created during the 2005-06 school year. That first year the club was recognized as UNITE Club of the Year, and in 2007 was named a Regional Finalist.

The club, under sponsor Debi Sexton, has become a fixture within the school and is now “expected” to provide activities for pep rallies, spirit weeks and school-wide contests.

Club members organized a program called “Racing Toward Proficiency-UNITE Stake Games” where every student in the school signed up for an event to conclude the final spirit week of the year. The event, which helped raise more than $500 for the March of Dimes, included fun competitive activities, a pep rally and skits.

As part of the Mountain Heritage celebration, club members put together a series of stories and conducted a storytelling performance on the Whitesburg campus of Southeast Community and Technical College. The program was so popular – it was videotaped for the school’s TV channel – they had to schedule a second command performance.

The club was involved in several mentoring projects throughout the year with students from the neighboring elementary school. Members presented a play on the dangers of drugs, invited their younger classmates to a special Christmas program, and participated in the Dr. Seuss “Read Across America” day.

Other activities last year including performing Christmas carols while walking through town and at downtown businesses, conducting a paper bag decorating contest to warn about the dangers of prescription medications, and as part of Red Ribbon Week collaborated with the Family Resource Center for a series of special activities.

For Veteran’s Day, local veterans were invited to the school where songs, original poems and a dance were performed. The students also heard reflections from several of these veterans.