POINT PLEASANT — For those discouraged about the fight against drugs, they should “DARE” to ask fifth graders in Mason County about their thoughts on the matter.
This school year, there were 315 students participating in the DARE program under the direction of Lt. Troy Stewart of the Mason County Sheriff’s Department. DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and includes a variety of educational opportunities for students to learn about the dangers of illegal drugs as well as alcohol and tobacco use, and dealing with peer pressure, among other topics. The program attempts to provide students with the tools to make smart decisions in life.
At the recent DARE graduation held at the National Guard Armory in Point Pleasant, Stewart, who has been with the DARE program for eight years, told the students, teachers and parents gathered, that the best way to understand the impact of DARE is to let the fifth graders speak for themselves.
At each school, students were asked to write essays on what they leaned in the DARE program. Two winners were chosen from each school’s fifth grade classrooms and were asked to read their essays when picking up their prizes and certificates.
“I will never do drugs thanks to DARE,” Justin Saxon, winner from Roosevelt Elementary read from his essay.
Saxon went on to talk about visits from a K9 drug dog, lessons on methamphetamine and the use of the “drunk goggles” when learning about the dangers of drunk driving.
Caleb Jones, another essay winner from Roosevelt, explained DARE had provided a learning opportunity about how drugs are made with dangerous chemicals and what happens when you do drugs. He said he was “awestruck” when he found out this information.
“Why would you go do a thing like this? It’s sad people make those choices,” Jones said.
An essay by Delaney Pearson from Beale Elementary reminded all that choosing legal substances like tobacco and alcohol have their own set of consequences on a person’s health. Beale’s Allizabeth Kauff, another essay winner, spoke on learning about not only tobacco use but heroin abuse and how the latter became illegal, as well as the toll heroin use can take on families.
A complete list of essay winners is as follows: Leon Elementary – Oliver Fields. New Haven Elementary – Annabelle Woodall, Dylan Duff, Nicholas Williams. Point Pleasant Intermediate School – Lilly Teichman, Isabella Patterson, Kyleigh Stroud, Bailey Snyder. Roosevelt Elementary – Justin Saxon, Caleb Jones. Beale Elementary – Delaney Pearson, Allizabeth Kauff. Ashton Elementary – Jaelyn Schrock, Isaiah Ramey.
Other winners included Macee Patterson from Beale Elementary for creating a DARE license plate design and Hayden Bentz from Point Pleasant Intermediate School for receiving the inaugural DARE Character Award.
“Thank you for letting me come into your lives,” Stewart told his graduates. “I hope (what you learned) it sticks with you.”
DARE graduates were treated to t-shirts, popcorn, sno cones and inflatables for graduation.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.