CIRCLEVILLE — One-third of the entire student body at Circleville High School (CHS) has joined “Club Future,” the school’s chapter of the Drug Free Clubs of America. That means that around 200 students have pledged to remain drug free for the school year, and they took their initial drug screening tests on Wednesday to prove it.
“Our original goal was only 50 kids,” said Circleville High School Principal Chris Thornsley. “We brought a group of about 12 kids together last winter to pitch the idea, and one of the goals the kids set was to be the biggest club at Circleville High School. They’ve definitely achieved their goal.”
Heather McGowan with Drug Free Clubs of America in Cincinnati called CHS “trailblazers” for being the first high school in Pickaway County to get involved with the program. She said that all high schools in Ross County are now involved.
“For a smaller school, 20 percent of the student body is great for the first year, and CHS has 30 percent, so it’s really amazing,” she said.
Principal Thornsley said he would like to challenge Pickaway County’s other public high schools to get involved in a friendly competition.
“Now that I know the success and how important it is for our kids, it would be great to have it in all four county schools where we can compete against each other to see who has the most members,” he said.
To qualify for CHS’ Club Future, students and their parents voluntarily signed a consent form, then students created a computer profile and agreed to submit to random drug tests throughout the school year. As soon as their initial tests come back clean, students will be sent a photo ID card that they can use for discounts at local businesses.
Participating sponsors include BW3, Roosters, Subway, Yomg, Zanzis Pizza, The Pickaway County Family YMCA, and Rainey Photography. Berger Health System has provided medical professionals free of charge to help administer the drug screens.
CHS Senior Leeanne Stevens said that her entire volleyball team decided to join the club.
“I wanted to be a pioneer to get other people involved as well so they feel more comfortable thinking, ‘this person is doing it, maybe I can do it, too,’ she said.
Principal Thornsley said that a second day of drug screening will be held on September 13 for students who still want to sign up. He said that students are charged $15 to join Club Future, even though the full cost for a year’s worth of drug testing is closer to $67 per student. Thornsley said that the school will not turn away any student who can’t afford to pay, and is looking for individual and corporate sponsors to help defray the costs.
“We’ll find a way,” he said.
Thornsley said he hopes the example set by the Club Future members will have a trickle-down effect for Circleville City Schools.
“We want this to be a student organization that’s out talking to our middle school and elementary school kids,” he said. We want them to know what Club Future is, to be able to say, ‘when I’m in high school, I’m going to do that.’”