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Written by: Alan Johnson, NAMI Ohio 

It turned out 2020 was a banner year for Athens County schools.

While the COVID-19 pandemic seriously affected all students and teachers, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Athens affiliate wanted to recognize the strength and resilience of their area schools by presenting special banners to all schools in Athens County.

Gregory Polzer, a former teacher, adviser to the NAMI Board, and member of the Athens-Hocking-Vinton Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, came up with the idea of creating banners to show appreciation for schools helping students, teachers, parents and the community during these difficult times. Polzer said he hoped the signs would “put a smile on all their faces every time they read the banner.”

The NAMI Athens board worked with Performance Signs in Athens to create customized 3 foot by 4 foot banners that included each school’s school colors and mascots. The banners were distributed to every school in Athens County, including the vocational- technical high school and school for handicapped students.

NAMI arranged delivery dates of the colorful banners with superintendents of each school district. At the presentation, Polzer and others spoke of the appreciation for the schools’ effort during trying times and the importance of mental health care