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Students pledge to be drug free

Wearing gray shirts that boldly proclaimed, &#8220No Fear When your Brain is in Gear,” 150 fifth graders at Central’s West Elementary School have taken the pledge to remain drug free.

They graduated Thursday from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program.

&#8220I think parents would be surprised at how much kids know about drugs and alcohol,” said Deputy Gary Carver, who teaches DARE. &#8220I know that surprises me. And I’m surprised by how much they don’t talk to their parents about it.”

Carver says parents are role models for their children in the way they treat drugs and alcohol. The best way they can help their children is to keep the lines of communication open and answer their questions.

&#8220Kids tell me they don’t want to talk to their parents about it because they may yell at them or judge them,” said Carver. &#8220It’s important the parents talk with their kids about their family values and morals and let them know they can ask them anything.”

Carver says parents often call to ask him about how to talk with their children about drugs and alcohol. He has resources available to share and in some cases, he has arranged a tour of the St. Francois County Jail to help students realize just how serious the consequences of drug use can be.

He believes drug use among students is down. He says he always refers students to their parents first when they come to him to talk about a problem.

&#8220I keep confidences, but if the child is participating in something I think is a dangerous activity, I pass that along to parents,” he said.

Parents and teachers applauded as the students at the DARE graduation received certificates to acknowledge their pledge to remain drug free. &#8220I am proud of all of them,” said Steve Alexander, principal.

&#8220I asked every student if they would save a life if they could and they said yes,” Carver told the crowd. &#8220Then, I asked them if they would save their own lives. And that’s really what they’re doing today. They took the pledge to live a drug free life.”

A student from each of the seven classes was honored for the essays they wrote on staying drug free. They were Alec Higgins, Morgan Reece, Joe Mitchell, Nate Rawlins, Jacob Brown, Crystal McCullough and Joe Conrad.

&#8220One of my favorite things to do in the summer is play fast-pitch softball,” wrote Reece. &#8220I am the pitcher and I play shortstop and doing drugs like meth or marijuana, would impair my judgment and slow down my coordination.”

Conrad wrote, &#8220I feel great about the DARE program. It really taught me a lot lately. I am going to resist drugs and violence which means – Define Assess Respond and Evaluate. I will avoid doing drugs. I will also do what I think is right for myself and others.”

Next semester, Carver teaches DARE at North County Intermediate and Middle Schools, West County Elementary, Central and West County Middle Schools and to middle schoolers in Bismarck Schools. The classes are offered to fifth and seventh grade students.

&#8220I believe DARE is having an effect,” he said. &#8220In different ways, we help change attitudes and beliefs.”

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