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Fifth Graders Graduate from D.A.R.E. Program

The fifth grade D.A.R.E. essay contest winners, pictured onstage with their prizes from left to right are: Jeanette Sosa, Siniah Howard, Veronica Gonzalez, Jesus Chavez and America Aguilera.

In addition to their regular studies, from October through December 2012, all fifth graders at East Elementary School learned how to make smart decisions about their lives through a program called D.A.R.E., which is an acronym for Drug Awareness Resistance Education. D.A.R.E., a statewide program available to all North Carolina fifth grade students, is a ten week course that educates students about the dangers of drugs, bullying and alcohol abuse.

Each week, Vivian Caldwell, a police officer specially trained to implement the program, visited classrooms at East Elementary School to teach students about the importance of saying “no” to peer pressure regarding drugs, alcohol and bullying. Officer Caldwell facilitated class discussions and showed videos to help students learn positive ways to deal with the difficult situations they will surely be faced with in their lives. In the classroom, Caldwell expected students to take an active role in the discussions. Students developed self-confidence by participating in role playing activities to practice the D.A.R.E. decision-making model. The steps for this model include defining the problem, assessing choices, responding using the facts, and evaluating the decision once it has been made. Students were expected to write a paper about their learning experience at the end of the program in order to graduate.

On Wednesday, December 12, 2012, East Elementary School held a D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony in the auditorium for the fifth graders and their families. Officer Caldwell and a few of her law enforcement colleagues officiated the ceremony. All of the fifth graders received certificates and one student from each class won an award for writing the best essay about D.A.R.E.. Fifth grade teacher Heather Canty said, “The program is a wonderful opportunity for students to talk about real life issues they do not normally get to speak about in school. It is also a great chance for kids to create a positive relationship with an officer.” The ceremony ended with a touching slideshow of photographs created and presented by Officer Caldwell, documenting the students’ experiences with her throughout the program. It was evident that the fifth graders enjoyed the D.A.R.E. program and they have made a friend in Officer Caldwell. “D.A.R.E. was fun and it taught me to be safe wherever I go!” exclaimed Gabriella Wilson, a student from Mrs. Canty’s class. Thanks to the D.A.R.E. program and their own hard work, East Elementary fifth graders are now more prepared to face any challenges the future may bring.

Written by: Heather Canty, Sumer Edwards, Amanda Gray and Kim Maggio, Fifth Grade teachers
Posted: Jan 25, 2013 by Lisa Bush

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