Beginning in the month of March, all fifth grade classes at Elmer Elson Elementary School are participating in the school’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program.
The program is essential to the schools education and has been a part of the curriculum for over 10 years.
“They need to be informed about what is out there. The reality is, they’re going to start seeing and hearing about these things in Grade 6 on, they need to be able to have that knowledge and have those conversations with peers, with adults that know the proper way to teach it and with parents at home,” says assistant principal Nolan Andriuk.
Mayerthorpe’s bylaw officer, Officer Dwight Dawn attends the school to educate students during the D.A.R.E. in-class presentations.
On top of the fundamentals involving drug and alcohol abuse, students learn about a number of important topics through the month of D.A.R.E. including safety precautions, making good and educated choices and how to react in different scenarios involving drugs and alcohol. The program provides students with methods on handling peer pressure and how to say “no.”
Students at Elmer Elson respond well to D.A.R.E. Days with high participation and demonstrating an eagerness to learn.
“It’s quite powerful. They’re very focused and engaged and they want to understand the big picture and they want to learn about things they’ve never heard about before,” said Andriuk.
With the advancements in technology, the program has had to evolve over the years to accommodate the fact that today, nearly every fifth and/or sixth grader is walking around with a phone in their backpack. The internet has reached a point where the program now includes education on cyberbullying.
Andriuk explains that “because of this new reality, the focus has shifted” to include elements within the cyber world and the importance of knowing what can and cannot be shared online.
The program runs until mid-April, ending with a D.A.R.E. graduation day for all fifth graders who participated.