TASD awarded $13,000 in grant money from tobacco settlement

Tyrone Area School District Chief of Police Mark Frailey announced the school has been awarded $13,000 in grant money from a tobacco settlement.
“The tobacco companies settled with different states,” said Officer Frailey. “Several states settled a lawsuit with the tobacco companies, and this part of the money we’re getting from that.”
The money is currently being spent through the SADD club, with Officer Frailey and Don Wagner as the advisors. Frailey recently met with the Tyrone school administration to discuss his ideas of how to divide the grant money.
The first way the money is being used is for a cessation group specifically for students caught smoking or using tobacco on school property. The Altoona Hospital will run the cessation program.
“Right now it’s set up where students get a fine because it’s against the school’s crimes code, they get school discipline, and they get suspended,” said Officer Frailey of what happens when students get caught smoking or using tobacco on school property. “But what we’re going to do is if the students who are caught will participate in the cessation program, we’ll do school discipline, but no fine at the magistrate’s office.”
Also, part of the grant money is scheduled to be donated to the Tyrone YMCA.
“A lot of kids can’t afford to do activities, and we’re trying to help the YMCA out,” said Officer Frailey. “The YMCA is going through their difficult time, and we’re trying to get an anti-tobacco message out. So what we’re doing is we will pay seventy-five percent of the total cost of an activity, and the kid will sign a pledge card saying they won’t use tobacco.”
Part of the YMCA partnership with the school is that whatever activity the student may have signed up for at the YMCA, a member of the SADD club will come from the high school and talk to all of the students involved in that particular activity so that everyone benefits from the program. For example, if a student is signed up for dance, then a SADD club student would talk to the whole dance class about the dangers of using tobacco and alcohol.
Numerous SADD club activities will also be funded with the grant money. Officer Frailey believes that if the students stay active, they are less likely to abuse alcohol, tobacco or drugs. The plans are what the SADD members call “defeat ATOD activities.” ATOD is the spokesperson for the club, and his name stands for “alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.” The students are to avoid ATOD at all times. The motto of the club is, “If you see him, throw him out.”
A Valentine’s Day SADD dance was held recently in the cafeteria in which 265 students attended. At the dance short anti-tobacco messages were read by the DJ.
For example, on announcement read, “Talk about a killer. Tobacco kills more people than AIDS, murder, drugs, suicide, alcohol and car crashes combined. Tobacco is a killer. Don’t let big tobacco companies tell you that tobacco is attractive. Tobacco is a killer.”
Also, students needed to fill out a survey about tobacco to gain entrance into the dance. The information from the surveys will be used to see if the students’ attitudes towards tobacco change over time.
A Seven Springs snow tubing field trip was scheduled for February 15, and 56 students attended. All the students again needed to do was fill out the brief survey sometime during the day. Students can also attend a Penn State basketball game on March 8, and fan busses to two district playoff basketball games are scheduled.
The money will help to pay for school-wide assemblies as well. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is scheduled to come to the school on Tuesday, April 22 to present a video assembly on the dangers of using fake I.D.s. On May 13, a mock accident is scheduled to be staged out in the parking lot. An ambulance crew will work on “victims” of a drunk-driving accident, and students can witness some of what goes on in a terrible situation. Teen Lead will also do some presentations in school.
“Mrs. Erb, Dr. Vendetti, Mr. Butler, Dr. Miller and Mrs. Dutrow, they’re all really supportive of this, or we wouldn’t be doing it,” said Frailey.
Grant money is scheduled to be spent on two signs made by Lloyd Signs to be displayed in the gymnasium or cafeteria to heighten community awareness. Officer Frailey would also like billboards with an anti-tobacco message placed around the entrance to the school or somewhere in the community. Also, a banner could be made to put in the school’s gym.
“The whole thing is that tobacco is a gateway drug, so that’s how we’ve presented it. The whole idea is to bring awareness,” Frailey said of the use of the grant money.
He believes that cigarettes are a gateway drug to more harmful ones later in life.
“We have such a bad drug problem here, and you can’t show me a heroin user who doesn’t smoke cigarettes or hasn’t smoked cigarettes,” he added.
Since Officer Frailey took over as SADD club advisor, the membership has increased from 10-15 students to 60. SADD club members do many activities over the school year to encourage kids to stay away from drugs and alcohol. This grant money will aide in the club’s efforts.
“Even if we can keep one kid from doing it,” said Officer Frailey of the club’s intentions to help the students of TASD.