BURLINGTON, N.C. – Fifth grade students at Highland Elementary in Burlington made a public pledge Thursday to be drug-free during a D.A.R.E graduation.
The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, or D.A.R.E, has been a staple in schools and police departments for decades.
“We’ve been doing it here in Burlington for over 30 years,” officer Michael Paschal said.
Times have changed and it seems that the list of negative influences for children today has gotten longer.
“Smoking, drinking, and then of course the current opioid problem that the entire country is having,” Paschal explained.
He said exposure to drugs, including opioid-related issues, could happen as early as middle school, reinforcement as to why D.A.R.E in schools is still relevant.
“You start seeing it in middle school and certainly into high school, so we teach our elementary curriculum, our fifth graders, to try to prepare them for that leap they make to middle school,” Paschal said.
Students shared what they learned across the 10-week program.
“We talked about what’s in drugs and how they make you feel and [the program] talked about what could happen to you if you did it,” Christina Bowers said.
“We realized that if someone is peer-pressuring you, you need to stay away from them and maybe just tell them no and if they’re telling you to do drugs, you can close your mouth or give a reason why not to,” Ethan Fogleman said.
More than 4,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24 died from a drug overdose in 2015, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens.
According to the data sheet, that included cocaine, heroin and “other illicit opioids.”
It’s hard to prove statistically if the program will make a difference down the road in a child’s life, but Burlington police believe in the investment.
“Any type of preventative work that can be done, any time that you can open up the doors of communication between law enforcement and the community absolutely is going to make a difference in at least one person’s life,” Sgt. Jennifer Matherly said.
D.A.R.E covers other topics including bullying, violence and peer pressure.
Burlington police are hoping to start a pilot program that will offer D.A.R.E to first and second grade students as early as spring 2018.
Dover D.A.R.E. graduates show off their certificates at a ceremony held earlier this month.
DOVER — The annual ceremony for the Dover Police Department’s Dover Middle School D.A.R.E. program took place earlier this month inside the Dover Middle School gymnasium.
At the event, 312 fifth-grade students celebrated the completion of the D.A.R.E. curriculum, which lasts 13 weeks.
In addition to the graduates, teachers, other school staff, and approximately 100 parents, some state, city and school officials were also in attendance. State Sen. David Watters, Dover Mayor Karen Weston, Police Chief Anthony F. Colarusso, Jr., Dover City Councilor Anthony McManus, Dover School Board Chair Amanda Russell, and Dover School Board Vice Chair Betsey Andrews Parker were among the dignitaries. Also present were the police department’s three D.A.R.E. instructors, Detective Matt Travaglini, Dana Mitchell, and Officer Jason Feliciano.
Prior to the graduation ceremony, the Dover Police Department’s Youth to Youth program recognized Watters for his long-standing support of substance abuse prevention efforts. The award, presented to him by Colarusso, was the Community Service in Drug Prevention Award “for tireless legislative efforts to champion action, resources and solutions needed to respond to substance abuse, including legislation to protect kids from exposure to second-hand smoke in cars.” Watters and Colarusso both addressed the D.A.R.E. graduates.
Dover Police Chief Anthony F. Colarusso, Jr. poses with N.H. State Sen. David Watters after the chief presented Watters with the Community Service in Drug Prevention Award earlier this month during Dover D.A.R.E. graduations ceremonies at the Dover Middle School earlier this month.
As part of the DARE program, each student is asked to write a letter to a fictitious friend who has moved away and has recently begun to use alcohol or tobacco. The goal is to see what the students would write to that friend to help them make better choices. The winning essays were written by Kyla Woolley and Finn Mattingly. They both read their award essays to the large crowd. The graduates were then presented with their certificates and their Drug Free IDs. The Drug Free IDs allow the students to get discounts at several participating businesses in the area.