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Freedom's fifth and sixth graders graduate DARE program

January 27, 2011
FREEDOM — After urging by parents, the D.A.R.E. program was brought back to Freedom Elementary and 20 students graduated the 10-week program in a ceremony Monday morning, Jan. 24.

Freedom Police Chief Josh Shackford explained the program had been set aside because there was no one qualified to teach it. That's when Tamworth resident and DEA special agent Lisa Remick stepped in. And with the support of school staff, parents, and the police department, students participated in a series of lessons over the course of the program.

"DARE works because it surrounds kids with support…It encourages them to keep asking questions…It's important that they are able to keep an open dialogue with their parents," said Remick. She also urged parents to constantly look for teachable moments, things to talk about to help them make positive choices, many that can be found in television shows, movies and daily events. And she reminded the group, "Drugs aren't bad because they are illegal, they are illegal because they are bad."

During Monday's ceremony, several students read essays they wrote about the program. "Taking drugs can take your life," said Christopher Farinella, "I don't want to take drugs or drink because I don't want to lose my parent's respect."

Seda Korroch described the program as a fun way to teach kids to stay off drugs.

Caitlin McCracken described "the bad things that can happen if you take drugs or alcohol" and the effect it can have on your family.

Emily Fournier said the program teaches students how to make the best decisions based on the DARE model and gave a week-by-week account of the activities the students participated in to earn their graduation.

Students were awarded certificates and given goody bags that included hats, t-shirts, pencils, and a miniature version of the program's mascot Daren the Lion. Refreshments were served and then students got to meet area K-9 officers and their police dogs; Ossipee Sgt. Joe Duchesne and Ronja, Freedom Officer Matt Tyler and Boone, and Wolfeboro Officer Jim O'Brien and Blek.

DARE is Drug Awareness and Resistance Education. The program was founded in Los Angeles in 1983 and is now in schools around the world. The program is touted as one that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence.

At Monday's graduation, the program was explained as teaching that peer pressure is not always bad and that good friendships can help children stay on the right path and give them strength to make the right choices.

This year's Freedom fifth grade graduates are Catherine Brabant, James Cutler, Seda Kurroch, Caitlin McCracken, Lucas McKinley, and Krystin Talbot. Sixth grade graduates are Johnathan Brabant, Marcus Clancy, Miranda Cloutier, Nicole Constantino, Shelby Cyr, Elizabeth Davis, Christopher Farinella, Emily Fournier, Garrett Furnbach, Abigail Jones, Rebecca Lees, Abigail Swan, Anthony Swan, and Michael Welch.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Alton School
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