On June 7, our fifth-grade students at Dommerich Elementary graduated from the DARE program and I was lucky enough to be on-hand, along with City Manager Jim Williams and Deputy Chief Dave Manuel.
Students and parents gathered for a daylong celebration that included readings of award-winning essays, a kickball tournament and a pizza party. Officer Allison Diller of the Maitland Police Department has worked with the children all year and recently stated, “This was the best DARE graduation ever!”
DARE (Drug Abuse and Resistance Education) was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles, Calif., and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of our nation's school districts and in more than 43 countries around the world. We’re lucky enough to have a committed police department that reaches into our community and works with both Dommerich and Lake Sybelia Elementary schools to implement this program. DARE has been offered in the fifth grade in Maitland schools for the last 20 years and it’s a program that students really enjoy participating in.
Officer Diller worked diligently throughout the course of the year to help our students understand what gateway drugs are and how to resist peer temptation to participate. The focus of the lessons was marijuana, tobacco, alcohol and inhalants. Throughout the 10-week program, children in our community learned how to recognize these drugs and various ways to stay away from them. Every DARE participant writes an essay, which relates all they have learned in the program.
All of the kids did a marvelous job with special congratulations to the award winners: Cameron Stake, Christian DiPaolo, Anna Leedy, Kennedy Rand, Paige Burby, Savannah Wechsler and Natalie Rideout.
Regardless of whether or not your children went through the DARE program, I encourage you to have conversations with them about the pressures that they may face. In today’s world, there are more and more situations that children face where they encounter pressures from other kids.
This graduation ceremony stands to serve as a reminder that lines of communication should always be open and awareness is key to prevention. For her hard work and dedication to our city’s youth, I thank Officer Diller and commend her on a job well done.