Every two years, the Pocahontas County Prevention Coalition sponsors the Warriors Above the Influence poster – a poster featuring Pocahontas County High School students in their athletic, band or club uniforms.
The students featured on the poster must go through a rigorous evaluation period, including a drug test given by the Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department to ensure the students are drug-free.
At an assembly Wednesday, Prevention Coalition coordinator Cheryl Jonese commended the students for their pledge to be drug and alcohol free, a feat that can be difficult in high school due to peer pressure.
“I want to commend these young people for their willingness to step up and take a leadership role for being an ambassador for alcohol and drug prevention,” Jonese said. “Are these people up here perfect? Nope, none of us are, but I appreciate the choices that they’re making and the commitment to continue to make good choices. As teenagers, I know you face situations in which you have to make decisions. Above the influence is a state of mind. It means being yourself and not letting negative influences get to you.”
Each student who took part in the project was presented framed and autographed copies of the poster. Students expressed their personal interpretation of being “above the influence.”
“To me being above the influence means being a leader and not conforming to what society wants me to be,” Emily Boothe said.
Samantha Collins said it meant being responsible and making her own choices.
For Matthew Rao, being above the influence means exceeding expectations and being the best you can be as a human being.
“Being above the influence means being my own person and making smart decisions for my body and my future,” Danielle Cain said.
Both Jimmy Campbell and Cary Robertson said simply saying the word “no” means they are giving themselves a chance at a bright future, as well as makes them role models to help others make the right decisions.
“Being above the influence, to me, means that you’re able to make your decision about which path you’re going to take that leads you to your future,” Kayla Lester said.
A healthy lifestyle is the reason Steven Mick and Allie Plate choose to be above the influence, while Heather Pritt says she is above the influence because she refuses to settle for anything less than her best.
“To me, being above the influence just means being in charge of your own life and making good choices,” said Steven Simmons.
The poster is made possible by donations from several sponsors including: Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department, Snowshoe Mountain Resort, Pocahontas Memorial Hospital, Drew Tanner Photography, Community Connection, The Drug-Free All-Stars, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Pocahontas County Board of Education, Pocahontas County Chamber of Commerce, Pendleton Community Bank and Delegate Bill Hartman.
In attendance at the assembly were Chamber of Commerce representatives Linda Simmons and Roger Trusler, Pendleton Community Bank employee Selina King and House of Delegates member Bill Hartman.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org