Justin Collins, a Chazy Central Rural School fifth grader, reads from his essay at the DARE graduation.
The DARE pogram was not offered when Clinton County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Jamie Head was in school.
“Anything I found out about drugs and alcohol I learned on the bus,” he said. “There was a lot of misinformation out there.”
That is one of the reasons Head supports the DARE program and was thrilled recently to graduate fifth graders from Chazy Central Rural School from the course.
Drug Abuse Reinforcement Education, better known as DARE, is an international program that seeks to prevent the use of controlled drugs, gang membership and violent behavior. It has expanded globally since its founding in California in 1983, and students who enter the program sign a pledge not to use drugs or engage in violent behavior.
They are taught by law enforcement about the dangers of drug abuse in an interactive in-school curriculum that lasts 13 weeks.
“We go to area schools and teach about the dangers of drug abuse and resisting violence,” Head said.
The program brings a comprehensive message to students about tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and violence.
The focus of late has been prescription and over-the-counter medications.
“The number one abuser is pills,” Head said. “It is the number one drug in schools. That is the trend.”
His message to students is to use common sense and choose their friends well.
Statistically speaking, Head said, everyone who goes through middle/high school will be offered drugs at least once.
Head conducts role playing with students to prepare them for that encounter.
“I love coming to this school.”
And the school appreciates him as well.
“I think it is great for the students to have a positive relationship with law enforcement,” said Principal Thomas Tregan. “I appreciate that the Sheriff’s department sees this as an important program to continue.”
Students are provided the opportunity to discuss things they would not normally talk about, specifically, the pitfalls of alcohol and drug abuse.
The program also gives them the skills to think before they act, which is key when it comes to the power of peer pressure.
“It is a wonderful program,” Tregan said.
Stephen and Stephanie Ero are pleased their son Zachary participated in DARE.
“It’s really good, because it teaches them to stay away from drugs,” Mr. Ero said.
“It catches them at a young age when they are most vulnerable,” added Mrs. Ero. “If they are older, it is too late.”
Fifth grader Justin Collins, who participated in the program, read his essay on graduation day.
He said smoking marijuana and tobacco can cause breathing problems and lead to death.
Alcohol, the young student said, slows down the brain and body and is illegal for anyone under 21.
“Tobacco, alcohol and marijuana are all bad for you and you can die from them.”