Mrs. Michelle Raber and Mr. Jason Reinhard, physical education and health teachers at Northern Lehigh Middle School, have been teaching all seventh graders how to deal with issues that arise during adolescence since Sept. 10 of the new school year. Monday night, 90 of those students received recognition for completing the course known as the All Stars Program.

"The certificate they received congratulates them on successfully completing the All Stars Program. It is signed by the principal, (Jill Chamberlain) and myself," said Mrs. Raber.

The students have to attend 13 sessions of the curriculum and complete worksheets with their parents and which must be signed by the parents. They also complete a pledge to make good decisions to reach their futures.

Mrs. Denise Continenza, Family Living Educator for the Penn State Cooperative Extension of Lehigh County, spoke to the students and their parents at their All Stars graduation.

"When I was asked if I could come up with two good schools in Lehigh County that would embrace the All Stars Program, I immediately thought of Northern Lehigh. You have lived up to my expectations. It's so neat to see the relationship between the students here and the teachers," said Continenza.

She added that she had read some of the commitments the students had made.

"Stay on track and you'll reach your goals," she said.

A special guest at the event was eighth grader, Cheyenne Troxell, who graduated from the All Stars Program last year. She gave testimony that the program has helped her in her attitude and the goals she set for herself for the future.

The philosophy behind the program is: If young people have a clear vision of their future, they will understand that high risk behaviors interfere with their life goals. Young people who make public and private commitments to their vision of the future are motivated to avoid situations that put them at-risk. When everyone in a peer group agrees that high-risk behaviors are unacceptable to others, they understand that avoiding these behaviors will help them fit in. Parents can help their children to become highly motivated to avoid high-risk behaviors by encouraging involvement in an institution that has positive standards like a school, church, recreation group, or sports team. It will protect young people from experimenting with and engaging in high-risk-behaviors.

Topics of the lessons that are given include: planning for the future; learning to prioritize; clarifying goals, ideas, and opinions; understanding commitment; and recognizing social norms.

"The main goal of the program is to prevent substance abuse such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and inhalants, premature sexual activity, fighting and delinquency," said Mrs. Raber.

The program also emphasizes positive characteristics they want young people to develop like positive ideals and aspirations for the future, social norms, making voluntary public commitments to avoid risky behaviors, feeling part of positive social groups which protects against risky behavior and parents practicing positive parenting.

Mrs. Raber said the students participated in a survey of the top three goals they wanted to achieve (education, acceptance and freedom) and the three least wanted (disease, selfishness and there was a tie for third place of loneliness and prejudice.)

After the certificates had been handed out to the graduating students, several students and their mothers were recognized for taking a CPR class.

Parents were made aware of a CD available for them titled, "All Stars Strategies for Successful Parenting."

"I've been teaching the program for the last five years. I hear from other teachers and the students doing the program that it works. At the end of the last school year, one girl was asked what was the most memorable part of her year and she said it was the All Stars program. It's a great program," said Mrs. Raber.

Rebecca Blocker, a seventh grade student of Period 2, Day 1 & 4, was very glad she took the All Stars Program.

"I like that we learned about how when we go out into the world, there will be people who will try to get you to do things you shouldn't. This class teaches us what we should do. Also, if you do drugs and alcohol, they can ruin your future, and they only make you happy temporarily," says the newly All Stars graduate. She says her future goals include someday going on to college and live a good and useful life.