Students at the Hyattsville Elem D.A.R.E. Camp celebrated their D.A.R.E. graduations on June 30, 2023 culminating a 10-week long program that the fifth-graders successfully completed during the week-long camp that involved D.A.R.E. Officers from Hyattsville PD, Laurel PD, Seat Pleasant PD, and Maryland National Capitol Park Police. After the D.A.R.E lessons, students had lunch with the D.A.R.E. Officers, and a special guest from Hyattsville PD every day including Officers from K9, and the Swat Team. The last day of camp, the students had a graduation followed by a pizza party.

The camp was staffed, and taught by D.A.R.E. Officers Lucas, Umanzor, Williams, and Evans from Hyattsville PD, D.A.R.E. Officer Miller from Seat Pleasant PD, D.A.R.E. Officer Jackson from Laurel PD, and D.A.R.E. Officer Sherard from the Maryland National Capitol Park PD.

Children in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms throughout the country today face a multitude of high-risk circumstances including the temptation to use drugs and alcohol, violence, bullying, and internet safety, not to mention the fear of school violence.

The D.A.R.E. program teaches students decision-making skills that equip them to lead safe and healthy lives. Lessons include the dangers of drug abuse, how to resist and refuse peer pressure, and how to take a stand against bullying. The D.A.R.E. program is designed to boost students’ social skills, enhance self-esteem, and provide tools to help them make responsible decisions.

As a graduation requirement, the fifth graders are asked to write an essay describing what they have learned from the D.A.R.E. program. The essays are often narratives of personal experiences of bullying or peer pressure and explain how the students will use or have used the D.A.R.E. Decision Making Model to overcome those challenges. At the graduation, their D.A.R.E. Officers encouraged the students to continue to use the skills they learned in D.A.R.E.

Hyattsville PD, Laurel PD, Seat Pleasant PD, and Maryland National Capitol Park Police teaches the program to more than 500 students in six during the course of the school year [sic]. Funding for the D.A.R.E. program is provided in part through donations, fundraisers and grants.

By Michael Casamento, Maryland D.A.R.E. Coordinator
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