Orange County Friday Night Live Partnership honors two school chapters, one advisor

OCDE’s Orange County Friday Night Live Partnership recently honored two schools and an advisor for their efforts to develop youth leaders and implement alcohol and drug prevention projects in their schools and communities.

At its annual Chapter Recognition Event at Chapman University on May 11, OCFNLP leaders presented the partnership’s biggest awards of the year. The Club Live chapter at Buena Park Junior High School and the Friday Night Live chapter at El Modena High School in Orange were each named recipients of the Chapter Excellence Award, and Shannon Bennett, who oversees the FNL chapter at Santiago High School in Garden Grove, took home the Advisor Excellence Award.

Administered by OCDE and funded by the Orange County Health Care Agency’s Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Team, the Orange County Friday Night Live Partnership encourages young people to take the lead on alcohol and drug prevention activities at school and in their communities. The partnership also provides opportunities to develop leadership, communication, team-building and problem-solving skills. Its programs include Friday Night Live chapters at the high school level, Club Live at the middle schools level and Friday Night Live Kids in the upper elementary grades.

Here’s more about this year’s honorees.

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Student members of Buena Park Junior High School's Club Live

The Club Live program at Buena Park Junior High School was honored for promoting inclusivity, tackling youth-related issues and helping others.

The Buena Park Junior High School Club Live program in the Buena Park School District features 20 motivated students who tackle youth-related issues and work hard to contribute to a campus culture that is welcoming for all. Advised by Jodie Reddingius and Linda Tettemer, members conducted two school-wide awareness weeks this year — one focusing on the dangers of alcohol and drugs and the other supporting suicide prevention efforts. They also hosted a campus talent show to promote inclusivity and support for the LGBTQ community.

In response to the hurricanes that devastated parts of the United States last fall, this Club Live chapter organized fundraising drives, earning them an invitation to the WE Day event in Los Angeles. The annual gathering, set to be broadcast on ABC in August, highlights youth-led community change efforts around the world and features high-profile speakers and celebrity performers.

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Students from El Modena High School's Friday Night Live chapter

El Modena High School’s Friday Night Live chapter has focused on mentoring younger students and working collaboratively to prevent impaired driving.

The FNL chapter at El Modena High School in the Orange Unified School District was started two years ago by former Club Live students who attended Yorba Middle School. Supported by advisors Stephanie Quihuiz and Jarit Unrau, this ambitious group of student leaders meets weekly and has an average of 25 members.

Serving as role models to younger youth has been a major focus. This year, students conducted team-building activities at Orange’s Handy Elementary School and supported countywide leadership training for elementary and middle school students. The chapter has also developed a strong relationship with the Waymakers organization and the Orange Police Department to work collaboratively to reduce impaired driving in the community. Chapter members promoted their efforts during a presentation before the Orange City Council.

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Shannon Bennet, third from left, is celebrated at the annual Chapter Recognition Event

Shannon Bennet (third from left) believes in the goals of Friday Night Live and has been working to establish programs in other schools. She’s celebrated by OCDE project assistants Paulina Degortari and Esther Craig, along with OCDE Program Specialist Elke Petras (right).

Shannon Bennett has served for the past five years as the FNL advisor at Santiago High School in the Garden Grove Unified School District. In that time, she’s built a program valued by her school’s student body and administration.

Bennett strongly believes in the goals and benefits of Friday Night Live and has made it her mission to launch programs in other schools. This past year she connected her FNL students with Clinton Elementary School, which led to the first FNL Kids program in the Garden Grove district.

“I believe in the power of this program to inspire youth to make a positive difference in their school and community,” Bennett said. “I have watched incredible social relationships be formed that may otherwise not have happened because FNL is a place anyone can belong. I am in awe of the love and family feeling I have seen build over the years.”

For more information on the Orange County Friday Night Live Partnership, visit www.ocde.us/ocfnlp. Or contact OCDE Program Specialist Elke Petras at 714-966-4458 or epetras@ocde.us.