Leadership award to honor Dayton students

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More than a dozen Dayton students will be honored in Yakima for telling their peers to say no.

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Dayton SHEO students, pictured at a summer leadership retreat.

Students Helping Each Other, a club at Dayton High School, is receiving a Youth Leadership in Prevention award at the Washington State Prevention Summit. The award will be presented Oct. 21 in Yakima, and 15 students will attend the ceremony.

The group emphasizes preventing alcohol and drug use among teens, and also serves the community through leaderhip activites, mentoring younger students and participating in community service projects.

Co-advisor Peggy Gutierrez said her students plan their own programming and activities. This year, they’re facilitating a leadership retreat for junior high students, and working on a full week of educational activities about prevention.

“It really it youth empowerment at its best,” she said.

SHEO students have also set up an online forum for help, where students can anonymously send in questions and receive advice from a peer. Through their work so far this school year, Gutierrez said membership numbers have increased from only 6 students to almost 20.

“A big focus for this coming school year is making all of the students aware that we are a program to support them,” she said.

The Dayton group was up for the award against much larger schools with more resources. Gutierrez said coming out on top is a testament to their dedication.

“Our biggest resource is ourselves: they as a team and what they believe in and what they’re willing to do to support each other,” she said. “I’m really excited and I’m really proud of them. They’ve earned it.”

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 526-8363.

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