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Educator receives statewide recognition

September 29, 2012
By Casey Houser - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

Tygarts Valley Middle/High School is proving to be a leader in tobacco-use prevention and reduction.

The charge is being led by Joan Tacy, who was recognized Friday with the Sue Niestroy Wilson Award.

"I have been very fortunate to win this award," Tacy said.

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This is the fifth year in a row she has been presented with the accolade - a statewide award selected by the American Lung Association.

Sue Niestroy Wilson devoted her time to the youth of West Virginia and was a pioneer in tobacco prevention. This award is named in honor of her service.

The award that is handed out to middle/high schools that use the Not On Tobacco program. The school with the highest overall rate of students who quit tobacco receives the award.

In total, 52 students at Tygarts Valley participated in N-O-T. Of that number, 30 students quit smoking and 19 reduced their tobacco use.

Overall, 98 percent of Tacy's students changed their habits with respect to tobacco.

Tobacco is not permitted on school grounds and students are allowed to use the N-O-T program as an alternative to suspension.

The program sessions involve development of healthy habits for teens, including ways of managing stress and weight gain. Communication skills also are stressed.

It is a 10-step program that involves student learning to live without tobacco and learning how to work through that change. There are different strategies for both boys and girls.

Throughout the program, Tacy has been assisted by the principal of Tygarts Valley, Stephen Wamsley.

"He is very supportive," Tacy said, commenting on Wamsley's helpful nature.

Concerning the future, Tacy mentioned the need to spread the truth about the effects of tobacco.

"We've got to find a way to tear down the lies of the big tobacco companies," she said. "We've got to educate children so they say, 'It's not OK.'"

Both Tacy and Wamsley also recently received the recognition of Volunteer of the Week from the American Lung Association.

Wamsley was given the honor in January and Tacy was honored in February.

They each were featured on the American Lung Association's website,



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