FOCUS Monthly Newsletter
May 2023

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, 
until it becomes a memory.
Dr. Seuss
Graduates, you have had thousands of moments in high school that have impacted your lives, hopefully for the better. You have made lifelong friends and been inspired by amazing teachers. You have developed your own sense of values and have your own goals that lie ahead. It is from these past experiences where you gain truth, knowledge, determination, inspiration, and hope that will guide your path into the future.

Your future success is based on your present decisions. It is the wish of all who have supported you and loved you that your decisions are wise, that your motives are pure, and that you are willing to follow your dreams. As you leave behind these moments and they now become your memories, we can only hope that you find the value in them!
2023 FOCUS Rally!
Mental Health Awareness Month is here, and we recently caught up with Jacksonville High School’s Peer Helpers, the school’s FOCUS leaders under the direction of Mr. Phillip Hunt, to find out why they are so passionate about this facet of health. Their group discussion was thought provoking, their planning session was inspiring, and we are happy to share their feedback and Top 10 Tips.
Jacksonville High School FOCUS Group; Photos by Kassie Riggs Photography
Photo by Kylie Terrell
Youth HIV Awareness Month
Tom Robertson, the co-founder of FOCUS and retired HIV Prevention Coordinator for the Alabama Department of Public Health, recently spoke with students at Jacksonville and Sylacauga. Tom was welcomed with smiles as he greeted them personally. Students were thrilled to have a visit from our state’s most requested speaker on the topic of HIV/AIDS, and he grabbed their attention while delivering a powerful message on risky adolescent behaviors and prevention. 

Although the topic was serious, students agreed that it was important, and Tom interacted with students in fun and engaging ways. In “Tom Fashion,” he provided some comedic relief by playing a game with the students, and it was an unforgettable experience for everyone. Many students said they look forward to seeing him again at this fall’s FOCUS Rally, and others left chatting about how they plan to share what they learned with others in focus groups. 

We want to thank Mr. Robertson for making these visits, and we encourage you to contact us if you would like to schedule experienced speakers on important topics. Simply email us at
Photos by Kylie Terrell, JHS; Jimmy Reynolds, SHS
2023 Difference Maker
Nominations have closed for the 2023 Difference Maker. Thank you for taking the time to nominate a teacher! The 2023 Difference Maker winner will be announced soon!
Even though it is only May 2023, it is time to plan for the Fall of 2023 and next school year. The spring semester brings class scheduling for students, so you should also schedule plans for FOCUS for next year. Typically, some of the strongest leaders in FOCUS will be the seniors; therefore, Membership Drive in the spring semester is vital to recruit new members who are passionate about FOCUS.

New! 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline!
988 is now the active phone number that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This shorter number is easier to remember, and it provides free and confidential support for anyone in distress.
Be sure to share this updated information with staff and students in your school and community. Let everyone know that when they call, text or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors who will listen and help, 24/7. They will even assist you if you know of someone who is in distress. This can be reassuring when you are trying to assist a student or peer and need professional help.
*The previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-TALK) will always remain available for people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis.
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Monthly Health Observances
We encourage all FOCUS schools to engage in at least one health observance activity each month. Each month has some excellent choices for students on your campuses to “Make a Difference” and to encourage their peers to participate.

  • 1-31  Hepatitis Awareness Month
  • 1-31  Mental Health Month
  • 1-31   Skin Cancer Prevention Month
  • 1-31  National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month
  • 31       World No Tobacco Day


FOCUS values continued partnerships with the following state and community organizations.

Alabama Department of Public Health
Alabama Department of Education
Addiction Prevention Coalition
Children's Policy Council
Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS)
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama
Be Part of Making A Difference!