By Officer Kjell Michelsen
A new school year is just days away and with that, what better time to write my first few lines in my own little corner here in The Erwin Record – Officer Norway’s Corner.
Now, first off, “Officer Norway” is not my real name, which is, Kjell Michelsen, hence the need for a nickname! The Norwegian part of that nickname is from the fact that I was born and raised in a small fishing village in Northern Norway, named Båtsfjord. How I ended up here in little Erwin is a longer story.
Anyhow, my job the majority of the year is being assigned by the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department as a School Resource Officer to the high school. That is where my passion is, to not only be a resource as the title mentions to the school, but also to ensure to the best of my abilities the safety of our students, our school, faculty, and staff.
I might be just one law enforcement officer at the school, but this job is indeed a team job if there ever was one. It’s a team of not only fellow officers but faculty, staff and maybe most importantly the students themselves.
Besides my main focus which is safety, one of my best jobs at the high school is to be an advisor for our student-driven SADD club. SADD stands for Students Against Destructive Decisions and is one of the biggest youth organizations in the U.S. For more than 30 years, SADD has been committed to empowering young people to lead education and prevention initiatives in their schools and communities.
We are a new club, only a couple of years old, but we already have visited other schools in our county, talking to younger students about the dangers of substance abuse, smoking, etc. Earlier this year we entered into a nationwide video contest about the dangers of driving in the dark and was selected as one of the top 10 entries.
We have sent students for a free of charge leadership retreat to Nashville and have had many safety focused campaigns at the school. I encourage especially incoming freshmen, but also other students, to be a part of something that can change lives in so many positive ways. It does not cost anything to be a SADD club member; all we want is a drive and a willingness to help each other, after all, it’s the most effective force in prevention. See you on the first day of school.