Three Harlan County High School students and one recent graduate of Harlan High School have been honored in the 2012 The First Tee Pine Mountain Chapter Celebration and Recognition Dinner held recently at Pine Mountain State Park in Pineville.
“We are not a golf program,” said Jerry Shoffner, director of programming for the Pine Mountain chapter. “We use golf as an area to teach life skills.”
Shoffner, serving as emcee for the banquet, told of the Pine Mountain Chapter being in the top 10 of 200 chapters in 50 states, adding the national office “loves the Pine Mountain kids.”
Shoffner praised the work of Donnie Caldwell and Jan Gann, noting, “It is unreal what Donnie and Jan are doing with the kids… People in the (First Tee) system know about Pine Mountain.”
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Pine Mountain chapter, Shoffner said more than 1,000 participants have been involved with the program. He noted the average summer program is 150 to 200 participants.
The program has two First Tee recognized coaches and one First Tee master coach. The program normally has about eight summer helpers.
Shoffner complimented former state representative Mike Bowling for his commitment to the program and for making the facility at Wasioto Winds happen.
“Mike Bowling is making sure that our kids learn life skills… He wants our children to have the same opportunity as any children in this nation,” he said.
He also commended the work of board members, specifically noting the work of administrative assistant Teresa Berry, who organizes special events and marketing and efforts.
Donnie Caldwell, the master coach, was introduced by Shoffner, who noted Caldwell is a program consultant for the First Tee home office, a PGA member and a five-time Kentucky Section PGA Junior Golf Leader.
Caldwell spoke on the nine core values of the program which are designed for positive youth development. The nine values were the basis for various awards presented later in the program. These include honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, and judgment. First Tee participants also bring home the Nine Healthy Habits of energy, play, safety, vision, mind, family, friends, school and community.
First Tee begins the first week of June each summer, continuing for six weeks.
Harlan County High School students honored were Jacob Cornett, who received the Responsibility Award; Clyde Daniels, who received the Respect Award; and Jay Phillips, who received the Honesty Award. Cornett is a senior. Daniels and Phillips are sophomores.
Evan Howard, a recent graduate of Harlan High School, received a First Tee Scholar Award. Howard is a freshman at the University of Kentucky.
Gann, the executive director of The First Tee Pine Mountain, highlighted the National School Program and the area schools participating.
Housed at Wasioto Winds at Pine Mountain State Park, First Tee encourages the National School Program initiative which brings elements of the First Tee Life Skills Experience Program to elementary schools for grades kindergarten through fifth, using a nationally accredited program for the school’s physical education teacher, she said.
By bringing the program to the schools, children that would not ordinarily be impacted by the First Tee summer program, will have an opportunity at school, saidGann.
Anyone interested in learning more about the summer program of the school program can first the national website at www.thefirsttee.org or email Gann at firstname.lastname@example.org.