Maiden Elementary fifth-grade students look over their D.A.R.E. certificates during a ceremony on Friday afternoon.

Maiden Elementary School held a graduation ceremony Friday afternoon for 75 fifth-grade students who completed the D.A.R.E. program this year.

“D.A.R.E. consists of 10 lessons where we talk about everything from communication styles, bullying, drug and alcohol facts; we cover the whole gamut of what these fifth-graders may come into contact,” Maiden Police Officer Mark Baker said. “We had an excellent group this year.”

Maiden Elementary School Principal Shannon Plemmons said she was thankful that the fifth-grade students were able to complete a program that she too participated in when she was a fifth-grader.

“Maiden Elementary is the only school in the Catawba County School system that benefits from this program and what a blessing it is,” she said. “The program obviously addresses drug and alcohol usage, but it also talks about bullying, conflict resolution skills and other topics. It gives them great information that I think they will take with them and use later in life.”

During a short speech, Plemmons gave some advice to her fifth-grade students. “Everything you do in life is about a choice,” she explained. “That one choice that you make can impact you for the rest of your life. I challenge you to always think before you act.”

Maiden Police Chief Tracy Ledford also gave advice to the young students: The three L’s of life.

“Listen, learn and lead,” he said. “Listen to what parents tell you; that includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers. Learn every day. Every day is a day to learn. Lastly, lead. Lead by example in the classroom, or in your house. You never know what tomorrow holds.”

This year’s essay winners had the opportunity to read their essays during the ceremony. A quote from each essay is below.

Daniel Lara-Alpizar

“In D.A.R.E., Officer Baker taught me bad things about drugs, and why not to use them. He taught me about drug abuse, peer pressure and bullying.”

Jada Lindsay

“This year in D.A.R.E., I learned how to make safe and responsible choices to help me be a better person. In the future DARE is going to help me not to do drugs.”

Ben Blackwell

“I learned about peer pressure, tobacco and alcohol and more. I really liked D.A.R.E. because it taught me how to handle situations, and it taught me facts on how to stand up to a bully and to not just be a bystander.”

After Ledford heard the essay winners read their essays, he added another L to his list. “I started thinking about what one essay winner said: ‘Don’t do drugs, give hugs.’” The quote came from Jada Lindsay.

“When I heard that, I knew I had to add one more L word; love,” he said. “Love one another.”

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Copyright © 2021 D.A.R.E. America.
All Rights Reserved.