The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 24, 2013

Club encourages pupils to make smart choices

JOHNSTOWN — A new program at West Side Elementary School is helping pupils make smarter life choices.

Lindsey Overdorff, an AmeriCorps tutor at the school, organized a SADD – Students Against Destructive Decisions – club for fifth-graders at the beginning of the current school year as an early intervention program.

“I wanted students to be informed about the effects of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, violence and other destructive behaviors,” she said. “I feel that the more the students are informed the better choices they will make.”

There currently are 36 fifth-graders who are active in the club.

“Students are really excited about this and they love doing the activities and being involved,” Overdorff said.

Pupils have already participated in a handful of activities including a pumpkin decorating contest for Halloween that had an anti-drug message to them such as “don’t get wrapped up in drugs” and was represented by a mummy.

Recently, a school assembly was held to start Red Ribbon Week and pupils put on skits where they were offered drugs or alcohol and acted out how they’d deal with the peer pressure.

“It was a chance for them to practice refusal skills, whether by making up an excuse, leaving or saying no and being strong,” Overdorff said.

Also at the assembly was a mother who lost her daughter when she was killed by a drunk driver.

“We wanted to show that the decisions we make can affect everyone,” Overdorff said.

Other Red Ribbon Week activities include crazy hair day and twin day, both incorporating the anti-drug and alcohol theme.

After the holidays, the school plans start a New Year’s resolution campaign that will focus on making healthy choices and being physically active.

In February, an anti-bullying program will be launched.

Overdorff said she’d like to see the SADD club expand next school year to include the fourth grade.

“Hopefully, students will have a better understanding of what is out there because they will be exposed to so many things and I want them be able to handle themselves,” she said.

Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Travelogue of terror features Johnstown area

    A historic week will surround the venerable Silver Drive-In come the beginning of May.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads