PITTSFIELD -- This school year, The Berkshire Eagle has teamed up with Pittsfield Prevention Partnership to honor monthly winners of the S.A.Y. It Proud Award -- Supporting and Acknowledging Youth.
Recipients for the month of March are all members of SADD -- Students Against Destructive Decisions.
Last week, The Forum honored award winners from the Herberg and Reid middle school chapters, all chosen by faculty of the school. This week, two members of the Pittsfield and Taconic high school chapters are honored for their contributions.
Billy Coles is a junior at Pittsfield High School, and was nominated for a S.A.Y. It Proud Award by his AP Psychology teacher Lori Murphy and other supportive PHS faculty members.
Murphy compiled a list of accolades for Coles, who was recently surprised with a presentation in his class by Karen Cole, coordinator of the PPP.
Coles is someone, his teachers say, "who has emerged as a determined, reliable leader in his class. He has a ‘stick to it' attitude and constantly strives to improve his performance academically and athletically."
According to his cross-country running coach, Coles "has transformed from his freshman year, not only as a runner, but in maturity and confidence. Most importantly, he is incredibly kind and would do anything for anyone."
Coles is also a member of the track, swim and cross-country running teams, the PHS Student Council, PeaceJam, SADD and the Boy Scouts.
Asked how he copes during challenging times, Coles said, "If something goes bad, I just don't accept it. You keep trying to make things better."
Weimon Chi is a junior at Taconic High School, and was nominated for the award by Taconic SADD chapter coordinator April Nutting.
Chi said he joined the club as a way to be with his friends, all whom have chosen to exclude drugs and alcohol from their social lives. He said the group has a solid 15 members and meets each week to plan and implement projects.
Most recently, the Taconic SADD chapter traveled to Boston on March 20 to join hundreds of young people who march in front of the State House in support of Kick Butts Day. The youths said they support legislation to raise cigarette taxes in Massachusetts and want to reduce the number of youths using tobacco products. Chi said members of Taconic's SADD group also met with local state legislators about The 84 Movement, a statewide campaign led by Massachusetts youth who are fighting the influence of tobacco. The 84 represents the reported 84 percent of youth in the commonwealth who choose to do positive things and not smoke.
In addition to SADD, Chi is also involved with technical support for Taconic's theater projects, Student Council and a newly revived debate club.
Chi said he encourages students to partake in opportunities that allow them to see new places and meet new people.
"People should get involved. Don't waste your four years [of high school] by doing nothing. There's a lot to do," he said.