PRESTONSBURG – Outstanding efforts by members of the John M. Elementary School UNITE Club during the 2009-10 school year earned them a UNITE Excellence Award for elementary schools in the east region.

The Karen Engle Youth Impact Award was presented during a ceremony at the school on November 5.

The award recognizes clubs that have gone above and beyond to spread the anti-drug message through unique and innovative programs within both their school and community, as well as establishing strong mentoring programs.

Winning schools receive a special Eagle trophy along with an additional $750 to be used toward club anti-drug activities during the current school year.

UNITE Service Corps member Cathy Cole was the club’s sponsor last year. The current sponsor is Marcia Carty.

Recognizing that many students may not have enough food at home on the weekends, UNITE Club members established a Backpack Program during the 2009-10 school year.

In addition, the club used a puppet show presentation to highlight the negative effects of tobacco and other drugs, then held discussions with their second-grade peers. In cooperation with the middle school, club members used impaired vision goggles to teach the effects of drinking and driving.

Turning to the community, at Christmas the club spearheaded a campaign to collect socks for residents of Riverview Nursing Home.

Other initiatives included a variety of anti-drug themes during Red Ribbon Week, supporting the school’s Family Fun Read Night, and participating in the UNITE Youth Summit.