If you have been a follower of the School Matters column, you may have noticed that the messages have revolved around school issues and the choices that our youth face. Career choices, dangers of social media, relationship decisions, and the dangers of drugs are just a few of the topics.
With each issue, our younger generation is faced with a menu of choices, both positive and negative. Through a well-balanced education, our schools are charged with a shared responsibility to help each student develop decision-making strategies.
I once read that a person makes more than 3,000 decisions a day. I am not sure how valid this statistic is since each individual is unique. Regardless, we all have both significant and insignificant decisions to make throughout our lives.
A long-standing decision that our youth must face at some point in their lives involves drug abuse and its dangers. As I write this article, the topic of drug abuse is fresh in my mind. You can easily find the data to paint a gloomy portrait for our children. My perspective is not a doom and gloom outlook as you may expect. Instead, I am filled with hope for our students.
On Thursday, Feb. 9, Main Street School fifth-graders celebrated their D.A.R.E. graduation.
D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is a kindergarten through 12th-grade education program that is taught in thousands of schools nationally and internationally. Launched in 1983 in Los Angeles, D.A.R.E. addresses drug abuse, violence, bullying, internet safety and other high-risk circumstances.
Locally, the D.A.R.E. program has become an integral part of our school. D.A.R.E. came to Main Street School more than 25 years ago. During this time, thousands of students have graduated from the D.A.R.E. program. Many of you may recall your days in the D.A.R.E. program. Many recognize D.A.R.E. officers Phil Charville, Dave Pigman and Dave Daniels. The 13-week program is a perfect fit for promoting and developing sound decision-making skills. The cornerstone of the D.A.R.E. Decision-Making Model revolves around four decision-making strategies: (D)efine, (A)ssess, (R)espond, and (E)valuate. It is through this framework that students learn to make positive, real-life decisions.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to recognize and thank those who provide the opportunity for our students to participate in the D.A.R.E. program at Main Street School. The program is made possible with the support of Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan, police Chief Dave Light and the Norwalk Rotary Club. A special thank-you goes to D.A.R.E. Officer Dave Daniels (a.k.a. “Officer Dave”) and teachers Marcy Burns and Kerry Steffanni. Without this support the D.A.R.E. program wouldn’t be possible.
On behalf of the 216 Main Street students who graduated from the D.A.R.E. program this year and the parents who work hard each day to put their children in the best position to succeed, thank you for another great year. If you are interested in additional information about D.A.R.E., visit www.dare.org.
Local columnist Dan Bauman is the Main Street School principal.