Reprinted here in its entirety.
Russellville senior selected as SADD national student
By Jonathan Willis
RUSSELLVILLE -- Sasha Willingham said she couldn't believe it when she
got the call informing her that she had been selected as the national
student of the year by the Students Against Destructive Decisions
But people who know the
Russellville High School senior say they aren't surprised at all that she's the first student from Alabama to receive
"She's been a student leader here for years," said Russellville High School Principal Rex Mayfield. "She's involved with and excels in just about every activity we have."
18, previously served on the SADD National Student Leadership Council
executive committee and will now be the face and voice of the 10,000
"Being chosen SADD National Student of the
Year is a great honor and a natural progression for her," said Penny
Wells, president and executive director of SADD. "We are sure she will
thrive as a leader, educator, and important voice and advocate for
Willingham, who plans to major in nursing at
Jacksonville State University this fall, said she became active in the
SADD program as a sixth-grader because she believes in the
"I know how drug abuse can affect a family, and I wanted my peers to know that there's a different route," she said.
SADD organization is a school-based, peer-to-peer education program
that is active in thousands of middle schools, high schools and
colleges across the country.
The program's mission is to provide
students with education, prevention and activism tools to address
issues such as underage drinking, drug use, impaired driving, teen
violence and suicide.
As the national student of the year,
Willingham will serve a one-year term on the SADD national board of
directors and lead the 12-member National Student Leadership Council.
excited about the chance to make a difference and influence teens
across the nation to make better life choices," Willingham said. "I
believe in SADD's mission, and I hope to accomplish as much as possible
within the next year."
In the past, SADD students of the year have addressed Congress about important issues involving young people.
a big job," Wells said. "She will be our representative at any
testimonies before Congress or any other task forces, and she will be
the spokesperson for our national campaign.
"The student of the year is really our face and voice."
Willingham will begin her term in July during SADD's annual conference in New Orleans.
has proven her ability to lead, both on the field as captain of various
sports, and in school and community events," said Alabama SADD state
coordinator John Perkins, who nominated Willingham for the honor.
is one student who I truly believe portrays the SADD lifestyle and is
respected by her peers for doing so," he said. "She will be an
excellent role model."
In the meantime, Willingham is getting ready for her high school graduation and looking at the challenges ahead.
"I never expected this to happen," she said.
Willingham is already looking into starting a SADD chapter at Jacksonville State once she arrives on campus.
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