On Tuesday afternoon, 130 Grade 6 students from Ecole Lacombe Upper Elementary School (ELUES) graduated from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program.
The students graduated from the program in front of many parents, family members and community members. Several dignitaries, including two trustees from the Wolf Creek School Division and Lacombe Police Service Chief Steve Murray, were also in attendance to show their support of the students’ completion of the school-based drug prevention program.
DARE is taught by police officers to students at the Grade 5 or 6 level. The DARE officers partner with classroom teachers to build protective factors for children by providing information and social skills needed to live drug and violence free lives.
In this case, the 130 students completed the 10-week program under the watchful eye of Const. Glenn Ford of the Lacombe Police Service.
ELUES Assistant Principal Ian Wilson noted that a record number of parents and guests were seated in the gym to watch the graduation.
“It’s great to see the community involvement,” he said. “I know our amazing students will continue to do their part for the community.”
Const. Ford said the program is based on teaching the kids how to deal with peer pressure they will face when they get older.
“I know the group will be successful as they move on to junior high and as adults,” he said. Each student in the program wrote an essay about what they learned over the course and their commitment to living a drug-free life.
Brianna Erickson told the group how she learned about the side effects of drugs.
“They really can have a negative impact on your life,” she said. “DARE taught me how to make wise decisions in a peer pressure situation.”
Megan Carmichael also noted DARE helped the students prepare for the future and some of the challenges the students may meet.
“It gave me the skills to say no,” she said.
Taylor Shaw said she and her classmates learned a lot in DARE and that Const. Ford made it fun.
“Smoking is bad for your lungs,” she noted about the effects of using drugs. “Constable Ford also taught us how to get out of peer pressure situations. Now that I have taken the DARE course, I feel I am better equipped to deal with peer pressure situations as a teenager.”
Although he has overseen the graduation of many students from the program over the past three years, this was the last group Const. Ford saw graduate and was his last day as a school resource officer in Lacombe as he is moving on to another post.
“Just one of those essays makes it worth it for me as a police officer,” said Ford.
Chief Murray also acknowledged that the students worked hard over the past 10 weeks.
“It is an opportunity for an exchange of learning between students and the DARE officer,” he said of the benefits of the program. Murray added that the program is initiated through taxpayers’ dollars and that it can be seen as a valuable tool in future crime prevention as it invests in individuals and families to make good choices.
“It really makes our community stronger and creates less work for law enforcement,” he said. “It keeps that dialogue going and that’s what this is all about.”