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Dawson Bryant Middle School students learn about faith, teamwork at lock-in

More than 100 students at Dawson-Bryant Middle School got pumped up for the football game Friday by spending time with their friends and learning how to handle life's challenges.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes hosted a lock-in from 3:30 to 7 p.m.

in the school gymnasium that focused on positive influences and decisions. Afterwards, the students attended the Coal Grove-Rock Hill football game before being picked up by their parents.

"It is primarily for kids to have something positive going on after school and it is a great way to touch on some issues, such as community service, with a larger group of students," Tomi Blankenship, school counselor and lock-in organizer,

said. "I want them to see that they can have fun without substances and get them on the right path."

Mike O'Bryant, youth pastor at Sharon Baptist Church in Ironton, was among the seven speakers.

"It is important to reach even one or two kids, but opportunities like this are great because it goes across denominational lines," he said. "Kids get in a group like this and realize they have a lot in common."

Teachers from the middle school and the elementary school talked to the kids about different issues including conflict resolution, gender relationships, body image, goal setting, team work and community service.

In the past, Blankenship sponsored lock-ins exclusively for females. She did not want the boys to feel left out, so it was expanded this year, she said.

Middle school is a crossroads for many kids and she wants to see them do the right thing, Blankenship said.

"Sometimes the focus in the world is on the negative when it comes to teenagers," she said. "I want them to know there is positive music to listen to and positive people to hang out with."

All the parents have been real supportive of the activities, she said.

Sixth grader Julie Marcello said she had fun and would definitely attend another lock in.

"I wanted to see what they were going to do, she said. "I knew they would have speakers and I like that stuff."

All the kids agreed that the lock in was a fun way to spend a Friday night with their friends.

"I wanted to hear the preachers, have fun and go to the game," said sixth-grader Kyle Davidson.