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RAINSVILLE, Ala. — Seven hundred DeKalb County Schools students graduated Wednesday, but not from one grade to the next. They graduated from the D.A.R.E. program.

“It’s a program we do in the county school system,” explained DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Tony Bartley, “It’s a collaborative effort between the Sheriff’s Department, the County Commission, and the School Board to allow uniformed officers to go into each classroom, fifth grade, and talk about the dangers of drug abuse, bad decisions, and bullying.”

Wednesday’s graduation marked the biggest D.A.R.E. graduation to date – 700 kids. System leaders, local and state officials, and law enforcement spoke to the packed room of students. The kids also participated in an essay and poster contest as part of the program held every year.

The deputies who are in the schools every day say they hope what they’re teaching the kids sticks with them. “It’s more of a feeling you know, when you reach somebody, when you help them make good decisions, you know you’ve helped save a future,” Bartley said, “We’ve got a drug problem everywhere in the state, and I’m a firm believer if it helps one child avoid those pitfalls, it’s money well spent.”

Usually, a graduation means an end, but here, deputies say it’s the beginning of making conscious good choices.

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