June 29, 2016

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County students commit to drug-free lives

MEDINA — A group of high school seniors was honored at the annual Share Cluster breakfast Friday.

Each of the 16 students has made a commitment to a drug-free lifestyle and to teach others about the benefits.

“These students have gone above and beyond through hard work, dedication and leadership to promote a positive and safe environment for their communities and their schools,” said Brandy Miracle, a prevention counselor at Cloverleaf High School who works with the Share Cluster.

For 23 years, the Medina County Share Cluster has brought together health professionals, school and law enforcement officials, court employees and others to prevent drug use among area children.

“Not only do we share our resources, knowledge, interventions and our enthusiasm, but we also share a passion for our future generations of students,” Miracle said.

For example, the Share Cluster helps organize high school and middle school student groups that mentor younger students.

Sharon Danko, court administrator for the county juvenile/probate courts, helps oversee the Share Cluster programs. She said the various programs in the county’s seven public school districts in the last 23 years have developed 1,300 high school leaders who have impacted 15,000 middle school and elementary students.

“It would be an understatement to say that we have been busy,” she said.

Share Cluster outstanding seniors and their high school are:

• Kelly Hozan (Black River) — “I chose to live my life drug free so I can live my life my way, not the way chosen by drugs or alcohol.”

• Julia Wade (Black River) — “To me, being drug free means never denying myself self-control.”

• Chris Fekete (Brunswick) — “I’ve always wanted to be a positive role model for younger students.”

• Bethany MacMillan (Brunswick) — “Since eighth grade, I’ve had a plan for my life and never have these plans included any drugs, alcohol, or anything of the sort.”

• Davis Brown (Buckeye) — “My mom always taught me that success comes with hard work, and staying clean has been quite hard, but it pays off in the end.”

• Kaitlin Holian (Buckeye) — “I believe you get more opportunities if you’re not a drug user.”

• Jocelyn Smith (Cloverleaf) — “I chose to live a drug-free life because I want to become a lawyer someday, and drugs can inhibit me from achieving that goal.”

• Brooke Ziegenhorn (Cloverleaf) — “I hope that with me living a nonviolent, drug-free life I can encourage others to do so also.”

• Jessica Hirz (Highland) — “I have chosen to live a drug-free life because I don’t want to harm my life, my future or my body.”

• Mallory Kathe (Highland) — “I want to be able to be the best role model I want to be for all the younger kids and even my peers.”

• Chelsea Coleman (Medina County Career Center) — “I don’t want any distractions from any outside source to distract me from achieving my goals.”

• Blake McFarland (Career Center) — “At the Career Center I study heating, ventilation and air conditioning. … If you use drugs in this field … you could endanger yourself and others.”

• Aubrey Lewis (Medina) — “I have chosen this life because … I feel my life will be much more fulfilling without drugs.”

• Mattie Ropelewski (Medina) — “Why would I choose to live a drug … lifestyle, a lifestyle that’s full of deception, manipulation, a dependency on a drug and causing pain to the ones you love?”

• Claire VanFleet (Wadsworth) — The schools’ anti-drug “programs have been very important in my life because they have helped me become a stronger leader and also to avoid the peer pressure that I have been involved with.”

• Andrew Slota (Wadsworth) — “For me these organizations have helped me to live above the influence and have a greater influence on the younger generations.”

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.