Utah's Emery High School in Castle Dale, Emery County, was one of 90 schools honored Thursday by the Clinton administration for outstanding drug-prevention efforts.
"Drugs and violence in our schools and communities pose an intolerable threat to children," Education Secretary Richard Riley told winners. "And though no one may have all the answers, these schools are clearly pointing in the right direction."Roma Powell, the drug-free schools coordinator for Emery County School District, said an example of some of the efforts by the school and associated groups is that 130 students act as "peer helpers" to other youths.
"They reach out and try to help them cope with problems they may face," she said.
Powell added that the school works with many local agencies in its anti-drug efforts. "People put aside turfdom to work together," she said. "That allows using our time and resources a lot more effectively."
She said teachers at Emery High School have been very cooperative in "receiving a lot of training. That helps them to be more effective in recognizing and dealing with problems and in disciplining with dignity."
Powell added, "Just because we are in a rural area doesn't mean we have problems that are any different than in urban areas."
In award ceremonies Thursday, Attorney General Janet Reno told officials from winning schools, "Washington doesn't understand the communities of America. . . . Thus it becomes important that throughout America we begin to reweave the fabric of community around neighborhoods that are at risk, around areas that have been plagued and traumatized by drugs and violence."
She added, "When schools, police, social workers, public health nurses, community activists, students, physicians, businessmen come together and make true partnerships, we can make that incredible difference."
Winners were selected from 174 nominations submitted by state departments of education, the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth, the national PTA, the Council for American Private Education and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Each winning school received a plaque, a drug-free schools banner, a national flag and a letter of recognition.
Emery High School also received the commendation of the State Office of Education. "It is well known that drug abuse affects student behavior and achievement and the overall school climate. These problems exist in rural parts of our state as well as in urban areas. We commend Emery High as an excellent example of what can be accomplished when schools, parents and the community work together," said Verne Larsen, state substance abuse prevention specialist.