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Brookville, Jefferson County, Pa. – It was a day of celebration for more than 100 5th graders at Hickory Grove Elementary in Brookville. However, this ceremony wasn’t the usual pomp and circumstance.

The students, instead, were pledging to resist drugs and alcohol through the D.A.R.E. program. It’s a 10-week program about the dangers of drugs and bullying taught by the Brookville Police Chief Vince Markle for the past 17 years.

The program stayed a top priority for Markle as he transitioned into the role of police chief just a few months ago.”I like being a part of the kid’s lives and I hope that I can make a difference,” says Markle.

The school says students also learn to form a relationship with the local law enforcement through the program. According to Principal Ruthanne Barbazzeni, it can impact decisions down the road. “Students are intimidated by their stature and authority and so we want them to feel comfortable with them so they can trust them and know that they are protecting them,” says the district principal.

Markle says he proud of what these students accomplish and he hopes it will help keep them away from the drug crisis taking a hold of the town. “Unfortunately you can never know how many kids you saved or inspired to make positive choices. There are no statistics for that,” says Markle.

Markle says he’d love to expand the program should the funding become available.

From WeAreCentralPA

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