A national high school program that offers random drug testing to volunteer high school students is making headway in the local area.
Drug Free Clubs of America has been operating for about four years in the Wheeling area. Recently the organization received a real boost when West Liberty University offered $500 scholarships to students from Wheeling Central and Wheeling Park high schools that complete four years in the program.
“West Liberty University is pleased to encourage all students to live drug-free and we are happy to support the Drug Free Clubs of America program,” said President Robin Capehart. “We look forward to welcoming these students to our campus in the near future.”
The new scholarships will be awarded for the first time in Spring 2014.
“We are so grateful to West Liberty University and President Robin Capehart for this scholarship. It will mean a lot to students who benefit,” said Angela Ferguson, director of the program headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, who provides support to high schools interested in starting the clubs. She estimates that more than 200 students participate at the two schools.
Both Wheeling Central Catholic High School and Wheeling Park High School have active Drug Free Clubs on their campuses. Clubs also are starting at other area schools.
“Magnolia High School also has a very strong chapter which tripled in size last school year and John Marshall and Cameron high schools are very excited to open new clubs, and are currently looking for funding to make it possible,” Ferguson said.
“This program is a proactive way for parents, students and our school community to address the societal pressures that high school students face. It gives parents the opportunity to identify and address substance abuse issues their child may face before it becomes more damaging, especially if they test positive,” said Mike Young, Central athletic director and head football coach. “Wheeling Central is very grateful to Gary and Flip West for their support of the Ohio County program.”
Local philanthropist and West Liberty University alumnus Gary E. West and his wife Flip are responsible for bringing the program to Wheeling in 2010 and they continue to support the program, making it possible for all Ohio County high schools to join.
Dwaine Rodgers, athletic director and assistant principal at Wheeling Park, coordinates the club at Park. He finds that students enjoy the support and says that the club “gives young people a cool way to say no and offers an out for not using drugs because they can say they might get tested.”
“It’s our fourth season offering the club here at Park. We love this club because it rewards students who make the right choices all along. Sometimes we forget about those kids. These kids lead our schools and can be role models,” Rodgers said.
The club’s roots go back to Ferguson’s father, a firefighter and two other firefighters who came up with the drug prevention program in 2005. It rewards students who volunteer to be drug tested with prizes, t-shirts, free pizza and other incentives only available to club members, who also receive an official membership identification card.
Area businesses also are involved and provide incentives like:
- Dairy Queen – FREE upgrade to the next size when you order a Blizzard
- Deano’s – FREE drink with purchase
- DiCarlos – Buy a slice of pizza, get a slice FREE
- Oglebay Park – FREE $20 gift card
- Perkins – Buy a burger meal, get a FREE shake
- YMCA – 6 free passes to use the facilities
“We have gathered lots of support and backing from many individuals in the Wheeling area. This West Liberty University scholarship will be a huge incentive to students. I encourage all parents and high school students to get involved and enjoy the benefits of drug free living,” Ferguson added.
For more information on Drug Free Clubs of America, call Ferguson at 877-929-3322. For more information on West Liberty University, please call 1-866.WESTLIB.