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Marion Elementary fifth graders completed 10 weeks of D.A.R.E. taught by School Resource Officer Michael Hensely of the Marion Police Department.

Marion Elementary fifth graders graduated with the knowledge to make good choices with lessons they learned from Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.).

Students completed the 10-week program that focuses on bullying, peer pressure, online awareness, tobacco and drugs. The program at Marion Elementary is taught by School Resource Office Michael Hensley of the Marion Police Department.

During the graduation ceremony, the winners of the annual D.A.R.E. essay contest were announced.

“Every student who completes the D.A.R.E. program writes an essay,” said Hensley at the ceremony. “Three are picked from each homeroom and there is one overall winner.”

Leah Loftis, Hayden Shelton and Reid Waugh were the essay winners. Waugh was announced as the overall winner and read his essay to the crowd about what D.A.R.E. meant to him. Walmart of Marion helped sponsor prizes for the essay winners.

Mayor Steve Little was the guest speaker, and talked to students about bullying and self-respect.

“I am proud of every single one of you,” Little said to the graduates. “One of the basic things you have learned in your life is that it is not based on your abilities, but your choices. You make choices everyday in all kinds of ways.”

A reception was held in the courtyard of Marion Elementary with refreshments for students, staff and family.

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