“Warriors Above the Influence” Celebrated at PCHS

There was a celebration at Pocahontas County High School on April 21st as the Pocahontas County Prevention Coalition honored the eight students selected to be pictured on this year’s “Warriors Above the Influence” poster.

There was a celebration at Pocahontas County High School on April 21st as the Pocahontas County Prevention Coalition honored the eight students selected to be pictured on this year’s “Warriors Above the Influence” poster.

The pandemic prevented the entire student body from assembling in the gym as in past years, but the chosen students and their families were present and the ceremony was broadcast live to every classroom at PCHS.

Cheryl Jonese, a Prevention Specialist with the Prevention Coalition explained that drug and alcohol use by teenagers is particularly harmful because their brains are not yet fully developed and introducing mood altering substances to a developing young brain changes the way the brain works and sometimes a person cannot go back and change that.

Jonese also explained the steps these students had to go through to be chosen to be pictured on this, the 7th Warriors Above the Influence Poster.

First, they had to fill out a detailed application in which they say that they do not use alcohol or illegal drugs.

Next their information is checked for accuracy, including checking with the school to verify their grades and a review of their discipline records. Checks are made on the applicant’s community activities. Including any jobs, with churches they might have attended or with other community contacts. They even check the applicant’s social media posts. Jonese pointed out that these checks are done with the permission of both the student and their parents.

If everything looks good after that, they are sent before an interview committee consisting of community members. Because of COVID, this year those interviews were done via Zoom. If the committee decides the student deserves to be on the poster, the Sheriff’s Department does a drug screen on the applicant. Only after passing each of these steps is the student photographed for the poster.

The eight students on this year’s poster were individually invited to briefly explain why they think it is important to be above the influence, and they were presented with their own framed copy of the poster.

The students featured on this year’s poster are:

  • Ben Dunz
  • Alan Gibson
  • Autumn Lane
  • Savanah McMillion
  • Emma Riffe
  • Haley Spencer
  • Sierra Wilfong
  • And Cheylin Woodruff

Following these presentations, we were offered the opportunity to interview two of these students, Alan Gibson and Haley Spencer. We asked them to tell us what being chosen to be on the poster means to them.

First up is Alan Gibson.

Alan Receiving his poster from Superintendent Beam

“Being a Warrior Above the Influence is really important to me because in our community I have seen firsthand the effects of drugs and alcohol on friends and families,” said Gibson. “I just never wanted to be the cause of that, or have that happen in my life, so I strive to be healthy and have great relationships.”

Next, Haley Spencer.

Haley Spencer

“I am a Sophomore here at PCHS,” said Spencer. “I’ve always loved the Influence posters, and since I was very young, I’ve always looked up to the students on the posters and just thought that was the coolest thing ever, and really thought those were role models in our community. So, when I say the application go out, I really decided I wanted to be on the poster. I think it is a great accomplishment to be on the poster. It’s something I am proud of and I am glad I did.”

Thank you, Haley.

Each of these eight Warriors would like nothing more than to having their poster influence a fellow student to make good life choices.


Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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