Parents and grandparents gathered at West County Elementary school for the fifth grade D.A.R.E graduation Tuesday morning.
Deputy Gary Carver started off by giving the teachers credit. “You are the most dedicated, sincere, and hardworking teachers I have ever worked with. Because of all your work, you make a tremendous difference and I want you to get your ado,” said Carver.
He also told the students that he enjoyed getting to know each and every one of them. “I know you all will make good, sound, smart decisions in life,” said Carver.
One student out of each the four classes that participated in the program was chosen for special recognition for their essay, a part of completion of the course work.
The fifth grade teachers announced the winners of the D.A.R.E essay contest. One student read her story. Others had their teacher read it for them.
Symantha McSpadden stood up in front of the crowd bravely and read her essay to the crowd.
“At first I thought I would only be learning the things I have learned from my parents,” she wrote in her essay. “But, when our class had our first class in D.A.R.E. and I met Deputy Carver, I knew he was going to teach my class and I new things.”
She talked about the four types of peer pressure, the D.A.R.E. decision making model, how she has used the model, and how she plans to use what she has learned.
“I plan to be to be drug free and safe for my life. Thank you, Deputy Carver, for teaching my class and I. Thank you for teaching us to be safe and drug free, I commit to be being drug free,” she said.
Another student took a much more personal approach on his essay. Too shy to read, he had his teacher, Jamie Pope, read it for him.
“This essay is about my dad who overdosed on heroin,” he wrote in his D.A.R.E. essay. “December 15 it will be three years since he’s been gone.”
He said his dad had been in and out of jail since 21, and eventually went to rehab. After being released he went to school, but became discouraged when he couldn’t find work. Then one night his dad went to a friend’s house and called home to say he would be spending the night.
“At 1 a.m., we got a phone call from the friend saying my dad had passed away in his sleep, they knew nothing else at the time,” he wrote. “Later the coroner stated it was a drug overdose. There were four people living in that house where my dad was at, but no one seemed to know anything.”
These words brought tears to Pope’s eyes as she tried to read the rest of the essay.
“My heart goes out to any child that has lost their parents for any reason. I have been there and I have felt the hurt. I pledge to be drug free,” he wrote.
After the presentation of the medals, Carver read an essay he wrote for the students.
Each teacher called their students by name for Deputy Carver to present them with a certificate acknowledging their completion of the D.A.R.E. program.
After the graduation, Principal Todd Watson thanked Carver for his hard work and dedication with the program, and then presented him with gifts from the students.
He received a bag of mini candy bars, fishing lures, and a card with a gift card to Buffalo Wild Wings.
“My heart goes out to any child that has lost their parents for any reason. I have been there and I have felt the hurt. I pledge to be drug free.” – West County D.A.R.E. program graduate
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or email@example.com