Students at the Career Center lined up en masse Thursday morning for passes to leave classes. Their purpose was participation, on a voluntary basis, in the school’s first drug test of the year.

Thursday was the kickoff for the Wayne County Schools Career Center’s new chapter of Drug Free Clubs of America, headquartered in Cincinnati.

A total of 205 students comprised the first wave of sign-ups for a club, which membership demands random drug tests on other occasions during the year to prove a drug-free lifestyle continues and benefits of club membership accrue.

“We were hoping for 200 for this first round,” said Principal Matt Brown, noting students may sign up through Jan. 1.

Jean Boen, the Career Center’s placement coordinator, introduced business and community guests, several of whom addressed students in the Commons, where doughnuts and juice were served as the club’s first reward.

From area board members to government officials and business owners and representatives, “they are here to show their support for you for making this very important choice,” Boen said.

Justin Starlin, president of the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce, shared area employment statistics, documenting a work force of more than 54,000 employed in manufacturing, health care and technology; and an unemployment rate reduced from 6.6 percent in July 2013 to 4.8 percent a year later, representing “1,600 jobs created or filled in Wayne County.”

“Why should these numbers be important to you as juniors and seniors at the Wayne County Schools Career Center?” Starlin asked.

The reason, he said, is “every one of you … is an asset” to the employment picture because of the trade skills they are acquiring and their commitment to a drug-free lifestyle.

“These employers are definitely eager to see how this program turns out,” Starlin said. “They will be watching.”

Possessing a DFCA membership card “sets you apart from the rest (of the job candidates),” he said, “and puts you in great position for employment in Wayne County.”

“The decisions you make now are going to affect you later,” said Don Hall, director of the Medway Drug Enforcement Agency, cautioning the people pressuring them into substance abuse “won’t be the people sitting with you in court” or when they go to prison for infractions.

“Welcome to the club,” said Wayne County Commissioner Scott Wiggam, pointing out the community guests “to your right are a member of this club already,” allowing them to reach their goals.

At the top of the list for preventing people from being employed is drug use, Wiggam told students.

“In order to obtain your goals, live your dreams,” and contribute to society and the work force, he said, they must remain drug-free. “This is going to be part of your life going forward.”

On Thursday, 215 students and staff were tested. Drug testing services are being donated by Wooster Community Hospital.

Following the kickoff, Bill Fagert of Wooster Brush said, “(This is) huge,” noting a drug-free lifestyle commitment is a tribute to students’ character, sense of responsibility, reliability and understanding of safety in the workplace.

Eliza Goebel, a Career Center senior from Rittman High School, said, “I don’t do drugs at all.”

As a student ambassador, she thinks she should be a good example to students and the community and considered club membership “a very good thing to do.”