By Kjell Michelsen

The school year is well underway. Football season has a had a good start, same with our Unicoi County High School volleyball and soccer teams. The students have settled into a routine, the freshman class students don’t get lost anymore and the buses are running on time.

The same goes for my job as an SRO. The job as an SRO could be a fairly easy one to “fade into the background with.” What I mean with that, is besides taking care of the law enforcement and security side of the job, the rest of the time, at least on paper, could be spent “watching YouTube videos.”

Now, that would not make for a very good and proactive employee in any profession, let alone in the role of a School Resource Officer, or as Benjamin Franklin wrote: “Leisure is the time for doing something useful. This leisure the diligent person will obtain the lazy one never.”

Most of the students at our high school have a fairly busy schedule, both academic, in sports and work outside of school, not to mention their lives on social media, which in some cases can make the three first ones small apples in comparison. Two years ago when I started with the SADD Club here at the high school, that first year was pretty much filled with trials and errors. As a new club, we are competing with all these other well-established clubs and sport teams, so attracting new members to a club with the acronym “SADD,” was a challenge at first, and although providing existing and prospective members with pizza and donuts during club meetings certainly got students to show up, there was little activity on the club level from most members when food and free T-shirts were not on the agenda.

That said, we had a core of members with a true desire to make a difference, and after a few planning and brainstorming sessions with these students, the second year got off to a much better start. This current school year is off to even a better start than the previous one, so we as a new club are certainly moving in the right direction.

As mentioned in my previous “Officer Norway” columns, we have several club activities planned for this school year. We were invited by David Crockett High School to partner with them for this year’s National Teen Driver Safety Week, and we are hoping that Tennessee High and Daniel Boone High School also will join us in this.

Teen driver safety is an issue that is close to my heart and high on my priority list, not only because I have a daughter that in a little over a year will be eligible to obtain her driver license, but also for the fact that the biggest cause of teen fatalities are accidents involving a motor vehicle, representing over one-third of all deaths of teenagers.

The last couple of years I have been working with Lieutenant Rick Garrison from the Fall Branch office of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and last school year I also got our local State Farm agent, Brian Poston. to help out in pushing out information to our young drivers about safe driving. It is indeed a team effort, and if we can just prevent one fatality it would be worth it.

Until next time, be safe, especially while driving.