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D.A.R.E. Deck – Hailey Deck, a fifth-grader in Mr. Widener’s class receives her D.A.R.E. Graduation certificate from Officer Mark Blankenship during the graduation ceremony at South Elementary School on Thursday, March 22.

Kennett’s South Elementary School had 134-students graduate from it’s D.A.R.E. (D.A.R.E. – Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program on Thursday, March 22. Drug Abuse Resistance Education is an education program that seeks to prevent use of controlled drugs, membership in gangs, and violent behavior.

It was founded in Los Angeles in 1983 as a joint initiative of then- LAPD Chief Daryl Gates and the Los Angeles Unified School District as a demand-side drug control strategy of the American War on Drugs.

Students who enter the program sign a pledge not to use drugs or join gangs and are informed by local police officers about the government’s beliefs about the dangers of recreational drug use in an interactive in-school curriculum which lasts ten weeks.

The cafeteria was filled with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and caretakers of the children who were excited to receive their certificates from D.A.R.E. Officer Mark Blankenship, with the Kennett Police Department.

Mrs. Jennifer Nigut got the event started, introducing Officer Blankenship and welcoming everyone to the 2018 D.A.R.E. graduation.

Officer Blankenship welcomed the familiar faces to their last program, which would send them out into the world more prepared to face the battles life throws at kids each and every day, but hopefully now, the kids will have the tools and knowledge they need to make the right choices when it comes to using drugs or alcohol, tobacco, and even bullying.

Over the past couple of years, D.A.R.E. instructors have began adding bullying to the agenda of topics children should discuss. As Officer Blankenship stated, kids are faced with the decision of either participating in or choosing to step in and stop bullying and possibly preventing a fellow student from being a victim.

“You guys have put up with me for 10-weeks and I have put up with you for 10-weeks,” Blankenship said. “And now it’s time for you all to use this knowledge and practice it daily in the real world,” he added.

Blankenship kept reminding them that they always have more than one choice. “You can either say yes, or you can say no,” he said. “The choice is yours. “I hope and pray that each and every one of you always stops and thinks before giving in to peer pressure,” he added.

The local D.A.R.E. program is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Kennett.

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