UPDATE 5/22/13 @ 5:30 p.m.
CHAPMANVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- One student's effort to keep his classmates safe has been so successful in his own school that the plan now is to take it statewide.
“I just want our community to make a turn around, and not be known for drugs and alcohol,” Matthew Dingess, a sophomore at Chapmanville Regional High School, said.
At age 16, Dingess is the brains behind a new program. He worked with West Virginia State Police to form STAR (Students Taking Action Responsibly).
The program covers everything from drug and alcohol abuse to the dangers associated with cell phones and the internet.
“It’s a phenomenal program,” Kathy Moore, the principal, said.
The program gets the principal's approval, but what about the students?
“They're disclosing quite a bit of information that we in turn give to state police if need be, or I can help get these kids help with counseling,” Moore said.
“I've actually talked to people who are in treatment right now for drug abuse,” Dingess said. “They told me if they would have had something like this when they were in high school, it might have taught them to take a different path in life.”
Two months into the program, they've seen what works and what doesn't.
Moore says there was actually too much of an emphasis on drugs and wants to spend more time on the issues that truly served as a wakeup call; like the risks associated with sexting and the consequences of cyber bullying.
Now comes the next step.
“With the help of state police, we want to take it statewide next year in secondary schools,” Moore said.
Dingess, Moore and WVSP will spend the summer setting a curriculum for the program.
They then need approval from the Logan County Board of Education to make it county-wide. Once that happens, they'll take it to the state level.
Concerns over serious issues like drugs, alcohol, bullying and internet crimes -- prompted Matthew Dingess to call state police.
Together they started a program, which brings in a different speaker each week.
The speakers will educate students and help them make good decisions.
Thursday was the first day, with speakers from MADD, "mothers against drunk driving."
“Something has stuck with that young man; with Matthew Dingess. He can be a catalyst, a spark plug,” Margie Saddler with MADD said.
“I just want our community to make a turn-around and not be known for drugs and alcohol,” Dingess said. “I hope to save some lives.”
The program is set to last at least six weeks.
Dingess hopes other schools in the county, state and even country -- will also latch on to the program.