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D.A.R.E. to Improve Children’s Futures

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D.A.R.E. to Improve Children’s Futures

Officer Wagner talks with a class

Officer Wagner talks with a class

Officer Wagner talks with a class

Officer Wagner talks with a class

Sarah Bethurem

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Fair Grove Middle School’s fifth grade students have been participating in the 2018-2019 D.A.R.E. program since the middle of September. Every Wednesday, ninety-two students take part in numerous lessons and activities conducted by one of Greene County’s officers. The program’s main goal is to improve the quality of the children’s’ lives.

D.A.R.E. was founded in Los Angeles, California in 1983; however, the meaning of the program’s acronym has drastically changed within the past year. Thirty-five years ago, D.A.R.E. stood for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Now, D.A.R.E. stands for Define Assess Respond Evaluate. Its meaning changed because Francisco Pegueros, the CEO, wanted to include a number of life choices that children could potentially make during the early stages of their lives; these choices are imperative to their well-being in the future.

Sergeant Ron Moore, Greene County’s D.A.R.E. Officer, is ultimately in charge of the program; however, Dale Wagner, a retired teacher and officer, is in charge of going to various schools around this part of Missouri in order to educate as many children as possible. Every year, for the past fifteen years, Wagner has been in charge of informing Fair Grove’s kids about drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and other useful information. Jennifer Anglen, a fifth grade Reading and Social Studies teacher, expressed, “It is a relief to know that they [the students] get tools at such an early age. Not all of them need it, but they are all beginning to have a genuine relationship with a law officer.”

It is obvious that drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are ruinous substances; however, Officer Wagner emphasizes that only half of the lessons in the D.A.R.E. booklets cover those items. He stated, “I strongly believe that the decisions they make at ten and eleven years old will affect them as people when they reach my age.” With this being said, it is clear that he firmly believes that there are other aspects that he needs to take into consideration when he teaches. Knowing how to make wise decisions and how to properly communicate are two life skills that he focuses on. Wagner explains that doing nothing is a choice; choosing the response of doing nothing could potentially be a good, or a bad thing. Whether or not someone should do something depends on the context of the situation. Sometimes it can be hard to discern what to do and what not to do in a given situation, which is why Wagner makes an appearance at school every Wednesday. If students can properly communicate and make wise decisions, they will not have to worry about doing drugs, drinking alcohol, and smoking/chewing tobacco products. In turn, these handy skills will improve the quality of life, and help with the prevention of crime.

The fifth graders will officially graduate in December. The exact date for graduation is unknown; however, it will occur at some point before Christmas break. The program’s graduation is a way for the school to celebrate and recognize each and every student that took part in the program. In order to meet the requirements for graduation, students must complete numerous lessons inside of the classroom, along with completing a D.A.R.E. essay, which reflects what the program personally means to them. D.A.R.E. graduation is definitely something that the teachers and students will remember for the majority of their lives.

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