Students are honored at DARE graduation

The 2012 DARE essay winners are shown above. They are from left, Isabel Allen, maria Miller, Becky Meyer and Cole Folsom. Photo by Charlie Warner

Fifth graders from Caledonia Area Elementary School were honored this past week when the annual DARE (drug-abuse-resistance-education) graduation was held.

Caledonia Police Officer Allan Johnson facilitated the 10-week course, which provided education on the pitfalls of drug, alcohol and tobacco use, as well as peer pressure and bullying.

All of the students participating were asked to compose an essay on what they learned from the DARE program. Johnson and several volunteers read all the essays and chose the top two essays from the two fifth grade sections.

The authors of the four top essays were announced during the graduation event and asked to read what they had written in front of their classmates, school staff, parents and relatives who attended the Tuesday afternoon event.

Caledonia Police Officer Allan Johnson served as the DARE facilitator again this year. During the graduation program, Johnson explained the program to those attending. Photo by Charlie Warner

The following are the top four essays:

By Cole Folsom

Some skills I learned in DARE are that you should never smoke or do any kind of drugs. I also learned a lot of different ways to say no to drugs and smoking.

I learned what DARE means. The D stands for drug; the A stands for abuse; the R stands for resistance and the E stands for education. All together that is drug abuse resistance education there for the short version is DARE. Now here are some facts about all of the things that DARE helps resist. There is a big list in all of these things so don’t just think this is it and you’ll be fine. Not all of them can lead to death but they all really affect your life. So here are some examples of what can happen. Alcohol can cause a lot of bad things. Some of these are slowing the body and brain, coma and maybe even death. It increases the risk for you to get a disease, it can cause you to get more violent when you use it all the time, and it damages every organ in your body. That will really start to hurt. Marijuana can cause a lot of different things such as breathing and upper respiratory problems; you will get a lot more colds than you usually should have; you might get short term memory loss and you will not be able to tell distance, speed or reaction time. Tobacco users might also have breathing and upper respiratory problems, and there are also 200 known poisons in cigarette smoke. Smoking can cause some bad things. It can dry your skin out and yellow your teeth.

So that’s what will happen if you do drugs. Look at all those facts: yellow teeth, coma, death, diseases and so much  more terrible things.

I pledge never to do any kinds of drugs, tobacco, marijuana and never to smoke.

By Isabel Allen

D.A.R.E. is a very important learning tool that really informs you on the basics of what drugs and alcohol do to you. It helped me understand what happens when you take drugs and what it can do to our bodies. I now know how to tell people “No,” and how to make great decisions. I think that D.A.R.E. helps young people who might be influenced to do drugs, tobacco and alcohol not to do it and make good choices.

Officer Johnson really made us understand what happens when you do drugs, it affects your brain. Smoking is horrible for your throat and mouth. It paralyzes your little hairs lining your mouth and once they’re paralyzed it lets all the poisons go through to the lungs. Not to mention, there are over 200 known poisons in tobacco! Marijuana makes your brain go ‘fuzzy.’ It doesn’t help that it’s addicting.

I know that I will make better decisions now that I’ve learned what to do. This was so important to me because it could change my life and I could help other people that might be influenced to do these horrible things. I can now protect myself from these things that possibly can kill people. D.A.R.E. will always help people and help them with any troubles they have. The officers really help too. They really influence us to do the right thing! It’s nice to have someone who is out there on the job and who has experienced these things with real people and how they affect us.

I, Isabel Allen, pledge to be drug, alcohol and tobacco free.

By Becky Meyer

In D.A.R.E. I have learned that there is nothing good that happens when you use drugs, alcohol or participate in violence. They can lead to diseases or death.

The first thing I learned was that D.A.R.E. stands for: D-Drug, A- Abuse, R- Resistance, E-Education. The next thing I learned was the D.A.R.E. rules which are very important. These are the rules: 1) Raise you hand so that only one person speaks at a time; 2) Be positive and respectful; 3) Observe and use the quiet signal; 4) Use the words someone I know instead of a person’s name, and 5) answer the questions that are comfortable to you. I also learned about the D.A.R.E. decision-making model. The letters stand for Define, Assess, Respond and Evaluate and it can help me make hard decisions. 90 percent of eighth graders don’t smoke and 80 percent don’t drink. It is illegal to use tobacco under age 18 and it is illegal to use marijuana at any age in the U.S.A. People don’t usually follow warning labels but do listen to advertisements. One beer has as much alcohol as a glass of wine. Some people are nice and some are not. Saying no is sometimes hard. I think the most important things I learned were the D.A.R.E. rules, the D.A.R.E. decision-making model and the decision-making skills. Two things I can tell someone else about the harmful effects of tobacco are that it can cause gum disease and tooth loss, and that nothing good comes from tobacco. Something I learned about marijuana is that they can be addictive. Alcohol is not good for you in any way. Advertising is a very good way to get someone’s attention.

My teacher was Officer Johnson and he taught me a lot. He was a very good teacher and I am glad I had him.

I have learned to make good choices in D.A.R.E. and I will. So therefore “I pledge not to use drugs, alcohol or violence and to make wise choices because of D.A.R.E.

By Maria Miller

Some things I have learned in D.A.R.E. are: personal pressure situations, peer pressure, making wise healthy choices, and most importantly, not doing drugs. I have learned that over 400,000 people die each year from tobacco related causes.

What I learned was important because it could save me from doing drugs at an older age. I learned that alcohol slows the brain and central nervous system. I learned that marijuana affects your brain and body. It is capable of short-term memory loss and will cause you not to concentrate. If you play sports and smoke smoking may cause shortness of breath or dizziness. All these facts about drugs have made a big impact on how I feel about living more carefully and safely. Another important reason not to smoke is it pollutes the earth. When smoke is blowing in the wind it pollutes the air and the earth.

One of the very important skills I have learned in D.A.R.E. is to stay away from places where you have seen or think someone may be smoking there. Never say yes to someone who wants you to do drugs. Try to stay out of risky situations. If you are a brave person and for instance someone tells you to do some marijuana, use some humor and say something like “No, I need all my brain cells.” If you are in a risky situation, you could give a reason or facts such as “No thank, I would be grounded for life. Or you could try changing the subject. That is some things that may help you from not doing drugs. It may even save your friends from doing drugs.

All these reasons for not doing drugs make me very aware of the things that they could do. And that’s why I encourage every person in this building not to do drugs because each and every one of you matters. I also encourage you to tell people you know about what drugs can do to you. Tell them that you don’t want them to die before you grow up. Give them reasons why drugs are bad for you, or maybe try to persuade someone you know like an uncle or aunt not to smoke. Tell them that it is polluting the air. Because all of these drugs could kill you.

From learning all this, I decided to make a pledge: I, Maria Miller, pledge not to smoke, not do drugs, to resist peer pressure, to not start peer pressure, to make healthy and wise choices and especially to let people know all the things that could kill them from doing drugs. I want to give a special thanks to Allen Johnson, officer of Caledonia for taking the time to teach us the importance of not doing drugs and to make good decisions. He has really opened up my mind to teach others the importance of D.A.R.E. education. Thank you!