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Penn-Trafford

Penn-Trafford SADD club wins 2 of 3 statewide drug-awareness awards

Patrick Varine
| Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, 11:57 a.m.
From the left, Ava Hammill, Christina Castellano, advisor Kim Stefkovich, Erin Brady and Brady Tramuta from the Penn-Trafford High School Students Against Destructive Decisions club. The club won Activity of the Year from Pennsylvania SADD, and Stefkovich was named Advisor of the Year.
Submitted photo
From the left, Ava Hammill, Christina Castellano, advisor Kim Stefkovich, Erin Brady and Brady Tramuta from the Penn-Trafford High School Students Against Destructive Decisions club. The club won Activity of the Year from Pennsylvania SADD, and Stefkovich was named Advisor of the Year.
Members of the Penn-Trafford High School chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions and Sage's Army wait to take the field before the football game on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.
Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
Members of the Penn-Trafford High School chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions and Sage's Army wait to take the field before the football game on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.
Floating above Warrior Stadium, 174 balloons released by Penn-Trafford High School's Students Against Destructive Decisions and Sage's Army represent Westmoreland County's 2016 overdose victims before the school's Sept. 8, 2017, football game.
Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
Floating above Warrior Stadium, 174 balloons released by Penn-Trafford High School's Students Against Destructive Decisions and Sage's Army represent Westmoreland County's 2016 overdose victims before the school's Sept. 8, 2017, football game.

The Penn-Trafford High School's Students Against Destructive Decisions club took home two of three statewide SADD Awards at the organization's annual conference this week.

The club itself won SADD Activity of the Year for a 2016 drug awareness event, and faculty adviser Kim Stefkovich won SADD Advisor of the Year.

And while Stefkovich was busy keeping the activity award a secret from her students, state officials were equally busy keeping the adviser award a secret from her.

"I was in total shock," she said of receiving the award Wednesday afternoon at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, where the conference was held.

"In front of 700 people, I kind of just stood there like a deer in headlights," Stefkovich said.

In 2016 and earlier this school year, the high school's SADD Club partnered with local nonprofit Sage's Army to organize a public balloon release memorializing Westmoreland County residents who died of a drug overdose the previous year.

According to statistics from the Westmoreland County coroner , that means the group has released 300 balloons so far: there were 126 fatal overdoses in 2015, and 174 in 2016. Both years topped the previous county record for fatal overdoses. So far in 2017, the county has experienced 122 fatal drug overdoses, with 45 more pending confirmation.

Penn-Trafford SADD President Brady Tramuta, 17, said it means a lot for the club to have its work acknowledged, but the work itself is the most crucial aspect.

"I think it's really important, because it starts young," Tramuta said. "(Drug abuse) could affect literally any of us sitting in these seats. One simple little choice can be very, very important."

Stefkovich said both awards belong to the students.

"I can have all the ideas in the world, but I need students who can follow through and get through to their peers," she said. "Their involvement is crucial."

The next big month for the SADD club will be April. Stefkovich said members will host a series of "Stay Sober" events in the three weeks leading up to prom.

"We're going to host an evening with sort of a game show called 'Think Fast Interactive,' that will be tailored specifically with questions about drinking and driving, and drug use," she said. "We're going to do some things at lunch time with the 'drunk goggles' and we'll do our big prom activity. This year, it will be a big mock party where someone passes away at the party."

Stefkovich said she could not be more proud of the work the club's students do.

"It was just awesome," she said receiving the awards. "I still can't even process what happened."

Below, video of Stefkovich and high school principal Tony Aquilio talking about the importance of drawing awareness to drug abuse:

For more on Pennsylvania SADD, see PADUI.org/sadd .

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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