By Kim Walter
Central High School's chapter of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America has been selected to receive the 2013 National STOP the Violence Award.
While not required by the national organization, the group in Woodstock decided to work toward the Students Taking On Prevention award by raising awareness about abuse in teenage relationships.
The chapter worked throughout the school year to design a project addressing teen dating violence. During February, Teen Dating Awareness Month, members collaborated with the school's theater arts students to create a video and presentation for about 200 of their peers.
The presentation touched on several topics, including abuse, the prevalence of dating violence, warning signs and national statistics.
However, instead of just showing facts and figures, theater students were used to act out an example of an abusive relationship. A high school-aged girl was shown several times interacting with her boyfriend. The male was both verbally and physically abusive.
Even though the teen was ashamed of the bruises on her face and the control that her boyfriend had over her, the video communicated just how difficult it can be for a victim to get help.
Several of the teen's friends were shown asking questions and offering support, but the boyfriend's grip was too tight. The emotional images went hand in hand with the warning signs and advice given throughout the video.
The video also was set to a modern, popular song - "Love the Way You Lie" by Eminem, featuring Rihanna. Students thought the recognizable song and powerful lyrics might help the overall message sink in.
Raelyn Hamilton, the school's FCCLA adviser, said students were excited to receive the news that they'd won a national competition.
"I mean, I've been here for five years, and they've never gotten an award this big," she said.
The chapter will be recognized at the national FCCLA conference in Nashville, Tenn. this July. In addition to that, they get $1,000.
Hamilton said the money will be used for next year's chapter, and it will be up to the new officers to decide what community projects will take place thanks to the increased funds. Since the chapter did so well with a video project, Hamilton said something similar - but dealing with a different topic - could be in the works.
The chapter also will be featured in the state's FCCLA magazine, "Teen Time" Their video was posted to the Virginia FCCLA Facebook page as well.
"I know it wasn't required for them to work on a peer educating program, but I'm glad they did," she said. "It's great that they're getting the recognition they deserve, and hopefully the students here, who got to see the presentation, learned something, too."
To watch the winning video, go to the Virginia FCCLA page on Facebook, and scroll down to the post made on March 5.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org