The Marquand-Zion School District is in the first year of a new D.A.R.E. program.
The R-VI District has received several donations this week which will support its new D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness and Resistance Education) Program. A computer was presented to Marquand Police Chief Lawrence Atlas by Gib Collins, Manager of Show Me Rent to Own. December 2, a D.A.R.E. car was presented to Chief Atlas by an anonymous donor. Prior to the receipt of the car Dave Couch with White Trash Customs spoke with Chief Atlas and agreed to donate repair work on the car. Atlas said they plan to have it ready by spring.
Chief Atlas began teaching his first class of students approximately six weeks ago, and said he hopes each child will remain in the D.A.R.E. program through graduation. Atlas said that D.A.R.E. is something he feels strongly about.
“If I retired from law enforcement, I would still do D.A.R.E,” Atlas said.
Chief Atlas has received the support from area law enforcement for his efforts to get the program off the ground. Both Rich Flotron, Director of the Mineral Area Law Enforcement Academy and Eric Hovis, Fredericktown Chief of Police, have voiced their backing of his efforts.
Flotron said, as a former D.A.R.E. officer, he is aware that it gives an officer a chance to be viewed in a positive light. It gives the children a chance to get to know that officer on a more personal level.
“They can see that we (police officers) are real people, too,” Atlas said.
He said this results in the students becoming more comfortable with law enforcement, especially, when they have the opportunity to share helpful information with them. Flotron said he feels it is a great educational tool for positive change at a crucial time in the lives of our youth.
The program’s inception stemmed from a Marquand-Zion school board meeting at the beginning of the school year. The school’s principal, Scott Blake approached Chief Atlas about the possibility of starting a D.A.R.E. program. Chief Atlas agreed to take the helm and get the ball rolling.
His next step was to contact the Missouri D.A.R.E. Training Center Coordinator, Sheldon Lineback. Atlas subsequently began what he referred to as an intense academic training program. After graduating from this two week program, Chief Atlas said he felt comfortable with the tools and knowledge he received there.
The students are enrolled in the D.A.R.E. course which lasts approximately ten weeks. They have assignments which challenge them. Each child is guided by Atlas to arrive at the most positive and drug free approach to solving problems they encounter in their daily lives.
In order to meet the requirements for graduation from the program, each child is required to complete an essay. The writer of the best essay receives the large, stuffed D.A.R.E. Lion. Each student who completes the program receives a certificate and a T-Shirt, at graduation.