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Sixty-one fifth grade students at East Union Attendance Center from Mrs. Amber Elder’s class, Mrs. Pamela Warrington’s homeroom class, and Mrs. Amy Lavanway’s class recently completed the 10-week D. A. R. E. program. D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. This program provides students with information and skills that they need to live drug and violence-free lives. A graduation ceremony was held Thursday, January 29, 2009 at the school gymnasium.
Chancery Clerk Annette Hickey was the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony. She said, “I congratulate each of you on your accomplishment in completing the D. A. R. E. program. It is important to think about the decisions you have to make every day. Just remember that the decisions you make will not only affect you, but also affect others and all the people around you.”
Tressa Hester, county D. A. R. E. agent and sergeant at the Union County Sheriff’s Department, was the instructor for the D. A. R. E. program. She said, “I have really enjoyed teaching all of you during the 10 weeks of this class.” D. A. R. E. was founded in Los Angeles in 1983 and it is implemented in over 43 countries and in over 75 percent of the schools in the United States.”
According to the D. A. R. E. Web site, “The D. A. R. E. mission is to provide children with the information and skills they need to live drug-and-violence-free lives. Additionally, it establishes positive relationships between students and law enforcement, teachers, parents, and other community leaders.”
Topics that were discussed within the ten weeks of that class were: the decision-making model, which helps the students to break down decisions and help them make healthy and wise choices for the rest of their lives, legal and psychological consequences of doing drugs, peer pressure, misleading advertisements, staying out of risky situations, how to handle risky situations if you get into one and choosing a friend wisely with friendship foundations. The drugs discussed in the program were alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamines, narcotics, inhalants and other drugs.
A new class was added this year and it was a role model class. East Union high school seniors and athletes Austin Epting and Carly Mahon were the students chosen to represent good role models because they make good grades and practice good decision making.
“After getting to know these kids, I believe this class and these students have a lot of potential for the future. My advice is to make good grades, make good decisions, strive to always do the best and be the best,” said Epting.
Mahon said, “Just because you are in high school doesn’t mean you have to do bad things to be considered cool.”
The students had to write an essay about what they had learned through the D. A. R. E. program in their eighth week of the program. Janna Humphreys was the essay winner. She said, “I use the D. A. R. E. decision making model when I make all of my choices.” She also talked about the dangers of cigarette smoking, marijuana smoking and alcohol abuse. In her essay, she made a pledge that read, “I promise to have self-control and respect my life and I will not put harmful substances such as drugs or alcohol into my body.” Janna is the daughter of Pam and Trey Humphreys and is in Mrs. Amber Elder’s class.
According to Hester, “This program is being taught at all of the county schools. With every drug-related ticket that comes through justice court, $5 of each ticket goes towards funding the D. A. R. E. program.”
Union County Sheriff Tommy Wilhite, Union County Tax Assessor and Collector Dennis Rakestraw, and Union County Board of Supervisors Sammy Coffey, Dwight Pickens, Randy Owen, and President Danny Jordan represented the county at the D. A. R. E. program. Not present is Supervisor Benny Rakestraw, Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford, and Union County School Superintendent Ken Basil.