MT. VERNON – It’s becoming a tradition.

For the sixth straight year, Rockcastle County UNITE Clubs at the Elementary, Middle and High School levels have swept the region for “UNITE Club of the Year” honors.

It is the eighth consecutive win for Mt. Vernon Elementary School.

The awards, for efforts put forth during the 2013-14 school year, were presented by Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers during an assembly at Rockcastle County High School on October 14.

“Your UNITE Clubs have historically been advocates and leaders among their peers,” Rogers said. “In fact, some Rockcastle County High School UNITE Club members and graduates have received national recognition for their efforts.”

Rogers noted that UNITE Club members have met with some of the country’s most powerful leaders during UNITE’s National Rx Drug Abuse Summit, been featured on news programs including CNN, and testified on Capitol Hill.

“One person can make a difference,” Rogers said. “You can mentor younger students, and you can get the attention of our nation’s leaders. You don’t have to wait until you get older to be a leader.”

“We couldn’t be prouder of all the effort produced by the hundreds of students in these clubs,” said Dan Smoot, president/CEO of Operation UNITE. “They go way beyond their schools to promote anti-drug messages throughout the community.”

A brief summary of the many activities performed by the UNITE Clubs last school year include:

Mt. Vernon Elementary
The club’s 214 student members:
• Collected more than 1,400 rolls of toilet paper for drug rehabilitation centers as part of the “Wipe Out Drugs” drive.
• Officers and Work Corps members mentored younger students at the school and presented them with a drug prevention coloring book.
• Performed during the annual Leadership Rally and Community Awareness Celebration.
• Distributed cards they made to veterans.
• Assisted with or participated in the “Run From Addiction” 5K race.
• Participated in the Memorial Balloon Launch at halftime of the UNITE Bowl football game. Red balloons represented those who have lost their lives to drugs and white balloons represented hope for those struggling with addiction.
• Held a water balloon fundraiser for a fellow classmate and club member who had been diagnosed with cancer just weeks before summer break. They raised more than $600 to give to her family for traveling expenses.

Rockcastle County Middle School
The club’s 235 student members:
• Donated more than 1,000 non-perishable food items to the local food and clothing mission through their annual winter food drive.
• Collected 1,000 rolls of toilet paper for drug rehabilitation facilities as part of the “Wipe Out Drugs” fundraiser as part of the annual UNITE Bowl football game.
• Helped organize and prepare for the Red Balloon Launch at the UNITE Bowl.
• Teamed up to raise more than $1,000 for “Pennies for Patients” during Red Ribbon Week.
• Helped organize and prepare for the annual UNITE Community Awareness Celebration, and members presented at each of the monthly meetings of the Rockcastle County UNITE Coalition.
• Participated in and helped plan the UNITE 5K Run From Addiction and the 5K T-shirt contest.

Rockcastle County High School
The club’s 167 student members:
• Took a leadership role in the annual UNITE Bowl football game, which includes a “Wipe Out Drugs” toilet paper collection challenge with the visiting school, with all proceeds being donated to drug rehabilitation centers.
• The “UNITE Presents” traveling theater group visited local elementary schools to perform drug awareness skits for 4th and 5th grade students. The group is often asked to make presentations outside of Rockcastle County.
• Continued the “Rocket Readers” mentoring program featuring school athletes as readers/role models.
• Volunteered their time at the local hospital and nursing home during the holidays.
• Featured guests from the community who have fought the disease of addiction at monthly meetings, giving students a first-hand glimpse of drug abuse.
• Participated in the annual UNITE Community Awareness Celebration held by the Rockcastle County UNITE Coalition.