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CRAIG — When they graduated the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program Thursday morning, fifth-grade students from all six area elementary schools followed a tradition started in 1983 by Los Angles schools and police, but like the students, the D.A.R.E. program has grown since those early years.

The program has been re-tooled to help students make good choices, handle stressful situations, create support networks and develop communication strategies, among the many “essential life skills taught to fill a void for today’s youth,” said Craig Police Investigator and D.A.R.E. Instructor Norm Rimmer.

Unlike last year, all Craig elementary schools were represented in 2018.

“It’s nice to finally get all the kids in Moffat County into the D.A.R.E. program,” Rimmer said.

Samantha Cless — a graduate of Hayden High School and Front Range Community College — gave the graduation ceremony commencement address.

“I watched my parents go through methamphetamine and alcohol abuse (and) experienced mental and physical abuse,” she said. “I fought tooth-and-nail to raised myself and made sure to make myself a good life.”

She said she was honored to share her story and perhaps inspire children.

“Just because it’s going on around you doesn’t mean that you have to follow in those footsteps of other influences. No matter how rough it is at home, you set goals for yourself, you work hard and anything is possible if you set your mind to it,” Cless said.

Following Cless’s remarks, six students read short essays.

“I learned a lot from D.A.R.E.,” said Ridgeview Elementary School student Hailey Goodwin, as she read her winning essay.

Each student described what he or she had learned.

“I learned to stand up tall and show you are confident. I also learned a lot about dealing with stress. I’m really going to use that a lot in middle school,” said Sunset Elementary School student Caitlyn Adams.

School Resource Officer and D.A.R.E. instructor Ryan Fritz thanked the fifth-graders for their efforts and their teachers for allowing officers to take over their classrooms for an hour each week through the course of 11 weeks.

He also thanked supporters of the program, including Trapper Mine, the Substance Abuse Prevention Program, McDonald’s – Paul and James Nelson, the leadership of the Craig Police Department, the mayor, city council members and merchants participating in D.A.R.E. card program, a discount card given to graduates.

He was, in turn, thanked by the students.

“I want to thank SRO Officer Fritz. You are a great D.A.R.E. officer,” Adams said before reading her D.A.R.E. essay.

Rimmer will transition out of the program and introduced his replacement, Officer Nathan Businger, who will replace Rimmer after he completes a two-week D.A.R.E. instructor course this summer and helped award graduation certificates and present prizes to essay award winners.

“Today, you’ll graduate from D.A.R.E. Every day, think about what that means to you. Be the change you want to see,” Cless said.

2018 D.A.R.E. Essay Winners

Ridgeview Elementary School — Hailey Goodwin

East Elementary School — Jamie Yanez

Sunset Elementary School — Caitlyn Adams

Sandrock Elementary School — Daphne Vest

Moffat County Shared School — Treyton Jacobson

Overall 2018 Winner from Moffat County Christian Academy — Bergan Wooten

From Craig Press