Although held virtually, OCFNLP celebrated honorees at its annual Chapter Recognition ceremony on May 20 where leaders presented the partnership’s most prestigious awards of the year.
The Friday Night Live chapters at Bolsa Grande High School in the Garden Grove Unified School District and Kennedy High School in the Anaheim Union High School District were named recipients of the Chapter Excellence Award. Jodie Reddingius, who serves as the Club Live advisor at Beatty Middle School in the Buena Park School District, was presented with the Advisor Excellence Award.
Administered by OCDE and funded by the Orange County Health Agency’s Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Team, the OCFNLP provides support and opportunities to develop skills in the areas of leadership, communication, team building and problem solving. Its programs include Friday Night Live (high schools), Club Live (middle schools) and Friday Night Live Kids (upper elementary). Through these programs, youth join together to take action and address issues of concern at their schools and in their communities.
Here’s more about this year’s honorees:
Chapter Excellence Award Recipients
Bolsa Grande High School, Friday Night Live
The Friday Night Live chapter at Bolsa Grande High School in the Garden Grove Unified School District is comprised of five student leaders, and the club welcomes an average of 18 general members to their bi-weekly meetings. The chapter is a committed and responsible group that started meeting during the summer of 2020 to conduct an underage drinking prevention project targeting alcohol retailers near the school. Due to the pandemic, the project was conducted by phone and email.
In the fall, the chapter learned that its long-term advisor, Debbi Lowry, was moving to a new school, but this did not slow them down. They welcomed a new advisor, Maria Mastropaolo. With strong leadership from the students, and with the help of Mrs. Lowry and Ms. Mastropaolo, the transition was seamless.
The chapter, like many others, quickly realized that maintaining membership in the club was going to be challenging this year as students experienced “Zoom fatigue.” They decided to prioritize team building and creating an inclusive space for participating students to contribute and speak up. FNL leaders did a remarkable job at making their meetings dynamic and engaging, which influenced member retention.
This year, the team implemented several prevention activities, including conducting media literacy trainings for peers at the school and teaching a lesson on decision-making and refusal skills to elementary students. In addition to their substance abuse prevention efforts, the chapter also focused on promoting mental health and engaging the student body on social media to create informative and action-focused content for their peers.
Kennedy High School, Friday Night Live
The Friday Night Live chapter at John F. Kennedy High School in the Anaheim Union High School District has shown tremendous growth this year. This FNL chapter’s 10 leadership members began meeting in the early summer to prepare for the upcoming school year. They identified the challenges distance learning created and designed their meetings to be engaging, productive and meaningful.
Kennedy FNL consistently has between 15 and 20 members attending their biweekly general session meetings. The chapter is supported by their advisor, Catarina Banales. Together, they demonstrate a strong youth-adult partnership, which is a core principle of FNL.
This year, Kennedy FNL has done numerous substance-use prevention activities, including creating a YouTube channel to share public service announcements and to showcase interviews with substance use prevention professionals, which is promoted to the student body and parents. Additionally, the chapter established monthly themes and community service projects that provided members the opportunity to contribute in meaningful ways.
The chapter is also responsible for supporting their school’s tobacco prevention efforts for the Tobacco Use Prevention Education program. In addition, Kennedy FNL has a strong presence on social media, where ongoing posts promote the goals of their FNL program.
Advisor Excellence Award Recipient
Jodie Reddingius, Beatty Middle School
Jodie Reddingius is the Club Live Advisor at Beatty Middle School, a brand new school in the Buena Park School District. Once Mrs. Reddingius found out she would be working at Beatty, she quickly reached out to school administration to get permission to start a Club Live program. She was passionate about the program because she had also established a chapter at her prior school, Buena Park Junior High School.
Mrs. Reddingius’ passion for the program started when she was a member and vice president of Friday Night Live when she was in high school. Throughout her time as a Club Live advisor at both schools, Mrs. Reddingius has gone above and beyond to support her students and to ensure that they are receiving the full Club Live experience. Not only is she an outstanding advisor, but she is also a resource for students to rely on if they ever need mental health support. She is generous with the time she dedicates to the club and its activities.
This year, her chapter has been proactive in providing education to staff, parents and students on drug prevention and mental health promotion. Mrs. Reddingius says she believes in the Club Live program because it challenges students to grow into leaders and health promotion advocates.
For more information, contact OCDE Friday Night Live Coordinator Elke Petras at 714-966-4458 or firstname.lastname@example.org.