The D.A.R.E. graduating class at Plain Dealing Elementary may be small in size, but they are surely big in spirit.
Twenty 5th graders graduated from the semester-long Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program Tuesday morning. Deputy Dustin Dennis, school resource officer and D.A.R.E. instructor, welcomed everyone to the ceremony, while Lt. Walt Hollis presented words of encouragement to the students.
Anna Adams, Plain Dealing Elementary School Student of the Year, led in the Pledge of Allegiance, while Jerry Harris read his winning D.A.R.E. essay.
Bossier Parish Superintendent of Schools Mitch Downey spoke to the students about the importance of continuing to make wise choices.
“The important thing is that you’ve been given all this information so that you can make wise choices in the future and make your family proud by being successful going forward,” Superintendent Downey said.
Capt. Adam Johnson, Bossier Parish Schools Security Officer, spoke to the graduates about the importance of the D.A.R.E. Decision Making Model.
“It’s not if, it’s when you are faced with a decision you are going to have to make very quickly,” Capt. Johnson said. “That model will help you do that.”
The D.A.R.E. Decision Making Model stands for: D – Define: Describe the problem, challenge or opportunity. A – Assess: What are your choices? R – Respond: Make a choice. Use the facts and information you have gathered. E – Evaluate: Review your decision.
Young Harris agreed, as seen in the essay he read.
“What I plan to do is use the D.A.R.E. Decision Making Model daily or when I need it most,” the 5th grader said. “I pledge to make good choices and treat others like I want to be treated.
School Principal Sandrina Isebaert read each of the student’s names as they came forward to shake hands with Dep. Dennis; Dep. Judy Williams, D.A.R.E. Supervisor; Lt. Hollis; Capt. Johnson; and Superintendent Downey. Their 5th grade teacher, Elizabeth Foster, proudly watched.
At the end of the ceremony, Principal Isebaert drew a name for the student who would get to take the Daren the Lion home, and the lucky student was Jerry Harris.
Eleven other elementary schools in Bossier Parish will also graduate D.A.R.E. students this semester, totaling nearly 1,200 students receiving the certificates in the fall.
The D.A.R.E program is one of Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington’s premier youth programs and is a semester-long curriculum taught by Sheriff’s deputies that emphasizes good decision skills for young people to avoid bullying, drugs, violence and other harmful behaviors. Students are also taught confidence-building and coping skills.
You can see photos from the graduation ceremony below (all photos by Lt. Bill Davis/Bossier Sheriff’s Office: