D.A.R.E. is a 10-week awareness initiative that is instructed by McDowell County Schools in conjunction with Marion Police Department and the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department. The current fifth-graders at Marion Elementary started the program back in the winter and it culminated with a special graduation ceremony.
Marion Elementary School Resource Officer Mike Hensley taught the course and covered all the factors that revolve around drug resistance for those as they get older. The skills taught in the program include how youth should handle and react to bullying, peer pressure, making responsible decisions, using good communication skills and the importance of being a responsible citizen.
During the program, students were required to participate in presentations in front of their peers as a part of the class curriculum. Then at the end of the course, each fifth-grader had to submit an essay about the things he or she learned about drug resistance.
The course ended with a graduation ceremony in which all students who met the class requirements received a certification of completion. The graduation also featured guest speakers from the local area including Marion Police Chief Allen Lawrence, who talked to the group about the importance of the program.
The history of the D.A.R.E. program nationally goes back to 1983 as a joint initiative of then-LAPD chief Daryl Gates and the Los Angeles Unified School District as a demand-side drug control strategy of the American War on Drugs.
The program was most prominent in the 1980s and ‘90s. At the height of its popularity, D.A.R.E. was found in 75% of American school districts and was funded by the U.S. government.
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