Students in Winston County will be celebrating DARE graduation Friday, March 30 at 9 a.m. Friday.
“The students seem to love the curriculum and the activities,” said officer DARE officer Tonya McWhirter.
McWhirter is the instructor for 11 classes of fifth grade students at Louisville Municipal School District and Winston Academy. Thos students who completed the program will graduate from the 9-week D.A.R.E. course March 30.
The Louisville Police Department has two officers who teach D.A.R.E. to the students. The officers strongly believe in the program. During the program, students were educated on building resistance techniques to alcohol, drugs and violence. They also learned to consider consequences, resist pressure, and ways to say no, along with the effects of the media, stress resolution alternatives, conflict resolution, anti-violence, improving self-esteem, risk taking, and decision making. This was all done in the classroom and taught by DARE officer McWhirter who teaches the fifth grade program. A teaches the 7th grade program is taught by officer Edward Hunt.
“Our main focus is helping students make good decisions,” said officer McWhirter.
In order for the students to graduate, they had to participate in class, and completed a DARE essay, which was reviewed by the teachers. The essay had to include what was learned and a pledge stating their life goals to living a drug and violence free life.
“DARE gives them a model to think before they act and to make good decisions,” said Officer McWhirter.
An essay winner from each class is picked and an overall essay winner will also be chosen at the graduation event.
“The students did an excellent job and should be very proud of themselves,” said Officer McWhirter. “All of the students who completed the course will receive a recognition of graduation. I hope that they can fulfill their promises to themselves and stay drug and violence free.”
McWhirter added that of course “everybody makes mistakes- It is part of life..”
“I am here to help them make better decisions in those situations,” said Officer McWhirter.
Seeing some of her former students make bad and good decisions motivates her to help her present classes even more.
“I love what I do,” said officer McWhirter. “It has gotten easier and harder.”
With 10 years under gun belt in the program, she has touched a lot of students lives by taking of the challenge for the harder and easier times.
Next year, Officer McWhirter can expect another change as the curriculum receives an update.
“The present curriculum has been in effect since 2003 and has been good but is time for a change,” said Officer McWhirter.
McWhirter noted the DARE program will be remodeled next year and introduce an updated version next year called “Keepin’ It Real.”
The program will address bullying part of the main curriculum and reflect other parts of the previous curriculum.
Officer Whirter said the DARE program is only possible because of the city’s, the school districts’ and community’s support.
For more information on the national DARE program visit www.dare.com.