Nearly 75 sixth-grade students graduated from the D.A.R.E. program at South Central Elementary School on Monday afternoon. Middle school Principal Alicia McKee and Huron County Sheriff's Deputy Mitch Cawrse, the school resource officer who taught the D.A.R.E. classes, oversaw the fourth annual graduation ceremony.
Cawrse thanked the parents for allowing him to be part of their children’s lives for 10 weeks.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” the deputy added.
Izza Lucha provided a history of D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), a curriculum focused on making responsible decisions that started in Los Angeles in 1983.
Cawrse selected Dixon Blanton, the son of Jason and Megan, to read his report to the graduating class. Lauren Ingram (daughter of Todd and Lindsey) and Aiden Powell (son of Adam Powell and Jacquelyn Taylor) also were honored for writing the top reports in their respective classes.
The most outstanding students in this year’s class were: Gracie Bowen (daughter of Steve and Amesha), Austin Howell (son of Anthony and Jessica) and Kaydence Weir (daughter of Kenneth Weir and Brittany Shepherd). Cawrse said he selected them because “they participated quite often in class” and “were fun to have in class.”
As each student’s name was announced to receive their graduation certificate, there was exuberant applause. Their classmates also shouted enthusiastic words of encouragement.
“Another fantastic year. Just a fantastic group of kids,” Cawrse said after the ceremony.
McKee discussed the importance of the D.A.R.E. program.
“I think it’s really important that we send the message as a school district that we want our kids to make smart choices and well-informed decisions. The decisions that they are going to make now are decisions that will affect the rest of their lives,” the principal said.
South Central recently had a double-dose of hearing the impact of one’s choices. Former NFL player Ray McElroy led an assembly last week with the high school and middle school students that focused on avoiding underage drinking and being sexually active.
“We had Ray McElroy talk to us about not being born a loser, not being born a winner, but being born a chooser — and that’s kinda how the D.A.R.E. program is too. You’re born a chooser and we want you to choose right,” McKee said.
“In this program, you’re learning about what happens, what effects do drugs have on you, while in seventh and eighth grade, you’re learning more about this is what happens; these are the grim realities of having bad choices. I think it’s important to educate the kids so they know. … I think it’s just really important that they’re educated about their choices.”