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Murray High School, under the leadership of PTSA President Mildred Horton, has been chosen to receive the National PTA Advocate for Children Award.

The school was selected as one of eight local units nationwide to receive the recognition. The school's Parent-Teacher-Student Association was in competition with PTA groups throughout California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.The PTSA, with the assistance of Horton, put together a special parenting class to help families learn to better communicate and understand their teenagers.

The organization, with the help of several PTSA board members, contacted five adolescent specialists who taught parents how to deal with their children during one of the most critical periods of their lives.

The PTSA's efforts have been instrumental in implementing a number of programs and policies at the school which have resulted in greater parental involvement and better educational programs.

"We were thinking of those parents who felt uncomfortable with their parenting skills. We wanted to reach out to them and give them assistance," Horton said.

"More parental involvement is the key to PTA success. Informed parents have a greater opportunity to be a valuable asset to their students and to the school. A PTA board couldn't possibly earn this kind of honor without tremendous amounts of help," Horton said.

Murray High School PTSA also received the Local Outstanding Unit award from the Utah Congress of Parents and Teachers at the state convention on May 11.

In April, the U.S. Department of Education gave Murray High School the Drug-Free School Recognition Award, becoming one of 51 schools nationwide to receive the honor.

"A principal can't function effectively without a good PTA," said Principal Richard Tranter. "I feel very good about what we've accomplished at the high school. I've always been a believer in the PTA."

Two years ago, Tranter said he wanted the PTSA to influence students, parents and community. He then approached Horton to create an organization that would play a vital role in the educational community.

At that time, the PTSA didn't have the support from faculty, parents and students for the programs Tranter and Horton envisioned.

Horton, a Utah native, graduated from East High School and has lived in Washington state and Idaho.

During the past four years, Horton has focused her energy into improving the PTSA organization. Before becoming PTSA president at Murray High School, she was PTSA president at Riverview Junior High.

Next year, Horton will head the Murray district PTSA Council made up of 10 boards and more than 100 parents and volunteers.

Horton has also been instrumental in the creation of the Murray Coalition for Youth, a special group made of different community representatives who work to create better opportunities for local youth.

The award is one of the most prestigious recognitions given by the national PTA.

Horton and Tranter will receive recognition for the local unit's achievement at the national PTA convention in Indianapolis, Ind., in June where they will conduct a seminar on the accomplishments of the Murray High School PTSA.


(Additional information)

Student programs:

-Registration stomp. A PTSA membership dance held the week before school started increased student membership from 267 student members in 1989 to 344 student members in 1990.

-Project graduation. An all-night, substance-free party for graduating seniors. About 170 of 300 students attended.

-PTSA spirit week. A program designed to increase student enthusiasm and excitement in school by celebrating with root-beer floats, student pictures, critical issues seminars and dances.

-Smoking cessation class.

Parent programs:

-Parent booster clubs. A program which created 30 different parent clubs to represent activities such as sports, debate, choir and band. More than 1,700 volunteer hours have been recorded.

-A monthly newsletter mailed to every family with students at Murray High School and at the Alternative High School.