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JOHNSTOWN — Friday night lights were shining bright during the “5th Quarter” on September 11, as Greater Johnstown High School was the first school to host a “R.A.V.E.” event. Organizers said it surpassed their expectations.

In August, the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies’ Youth Philanthropy Interns, Kylee Farabaugh, David Saylor, Hayden Spangler, Tabitha Weaver, and senior intern Mikella Buncich, awarded $25,000 to the Cambria County Prevention Coalition to fund “R.A.V.E.” (Reduce Alcohol Violence & Experimentation), a program that aims to provide students with engaging activities for after-school events to prevent substance abuse.

The Cambria County Prevention Coalition  is distributing “mini grants” to school districts that express interest in hosting an event that provides alternative activities that discourage students from drug and alcohol use. They believe that the knowledge of the Prevention Coalition teamed with the youth perspective of high school students will prove to be a great collaboration to reduce alcohol violence.

For the 5th Quarter at GJSD, students sold tickets for $2. On Wednesday before the event about 20 tickets were sold, by the day of the event 70 were sold, and by the time the football game ended, there were more than 220 students participating in the RAVE event. It lasted from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. on the football field; the students played games, won giveaways, ate pizza, and hung out.

“We had no idea that the event would spin off the way it did,” said Marlene Singer, who helped to coordinate the program with the Prevention Coalition.

“The fact that the students embraced the idea, thought it was cool, and want it to happened again, we couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Singer. “This is exactly what we want this program to do.”

GJSD plans on holding the event at their next home game because the response from the student body was overwhelming. Sheetz is now planning to sponsor the event to help spread the positive message at schools throughout the area.

“This event is keeping kids off the streets, away from violence, drugs, and alcohol,” said Singer. “The best part is they’re having fun, trying something new, and they’re safe.”

If schools would like more information on the RAVE program or would like to become a part of it, click on making a difference.

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