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BOE OKs abstinence curriculum

COVINGTON - Some students in the Newton County School System might hear more about abstinence next year.

During its April regular session meeting, the Newton County Board of Education unanimously approved the "Choosing the Best" abstinence education curriculum to be added to the middle and high school health curriculum in NCSS.

They acted on a recommendation from NCSS Superintendent Steven Whatley, who said the middle and high school principals have reviewed the curriculum.

"Abstinence is presently included in the sex education policy for Newton County," Whatley said in a memo to board members. "This program would be used to supplement materials already in place used over a period of approximately eight weeks."

Additionally, this program is being provided at no cost to NCSS through a grant with Healthy Concepts Research Inc.

"All utilities supplied to the county will come through the grant," said Dr. Linda Hayden, associate superintendent for instruction at NCSS.

Whatley said this curriculum will help students build positive skills and provide a strong, consistent message about abstinence from sexual activity.

"'Choosing the Best' has been used successfully in neighboring counties," Whatley said.

According to a chart provided by NCSS, Rockdale, Lamar and Pike counties have used the program in its public schools for seven to 10 years.

"It is nice to be able to promote abstinence and challenge students to remain abstinent," said Dawn Werner, a connections teacher at Edwards Middle School in Conyers. "The students need to hear this as much as possible with all the pressures from outside sources."

Hayden said this is the first year that NCSS has been approached for using the program for free.

Not every eligible child must participate in such discussions, however.

"Parent permission would be obtained for student participation in the curriculum with the option to opt out of participation," Whatley said. "In addition, parents will be afforded an opportunity to examine the materials at the school's front office upon request."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.