Bryanne Vculek, fifth-grader, Ware Elementary School, said she didn’t realize tobacco is considered a drug until she learned about it through the D.A.R.E. program at school. She encouraged her father, a smoker for eight years, to quit. After her grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema, her father decided it was time.
“It makes me excited (that my dad quit smoking) because, if he kept on smoking, it would cause him to die,” Bryanne said after the fifth-grade D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony Dec. 19 at Ware Elementary School.
As part of the D.A.R.E. curriculum, each fifth-grader was required to write an essay about the program. Bryanne’s was chosen as one of three winning essays and was read during the ceremony. In her essay, Bryanne shared the news her father had been smoke-free for more than a month.
Bryanne’s mother, Jody, teared up afterwards.
“(It was) very emotional,” Jody said of seeing her daughter recognized.
“I think more than anything, she learned the statistics and really what drugs are and (about) the pressure,” Jody said, adding she feels more at ease knowing her daughter has been through the program.
Sgt. Stephen Loudin, 73rd Military Police Detachment, 97th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, heads the curriculum.
“The 10-week course teaches valuable life skills to include how to resist drugs, alcohol and make wise decisions,” Loudin said during the ceremony.
“D.A.R.E. has evolved this year with a brand new curriculum,” Loudin said afterwards.
In addition to addressing the use and abuse of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, the new curriculum also helps students deal with everyday issues like bullying and peer pressure that students are likely to face, Loudin said.
The curriculum teaches students to deal with tough situations by using a decision-making model: define, assess, respond and evaluate, or D.A.R.E.
“It helps them with any type of problem to come up with different solutions to that problem,” Loudin said.
“(D.A.R.E.) taught me how to stand up for myself and even help others in their situations,” Brianna Cebula said in her essay, which also was recognized and read during the ceremony.
Cebula shared a story of how using the decision-making model helped her and a friend deal with bullying one day, when some boys called them names while they were playing in the park.
“D.A.R.E. really helped us that day,” she said. “It taught me to be confident.”
“I think the students responded very well,” Loudin said. “They seemed to enjoy it because it teaches more than just about drug abuse, it also teaches a lot of life skills.”
“D.A.R.E. was also very fun, too,” Cebula added.
Chase Ruffley, the third essay winner, closed his essay by saying, “I promise not to do drugs because I want to be healthy and live long.”
“It’s the best position I’ve had since I’ve been in the military,” Loudin said about the program. “There’s nothing like seeing kids learn something. It’s very rewarding.”
“I want to congratulate you on your completion of the program,” Ware Elementary Principal Deb Gustafson told the fifth-graders during her welcoming remarks. “You’re well on under way to being those citizens we desire and hope for you, and you’re well on your way to fulfilling all of your hopes and your dreams.”
By Julie Fiedler
1st Inf. Div. Post
Julie Fiedler | POST
Samantha Kotrc, fifth-grader, Ware Elementary School, high-fives the D.A.R.E. lion during the D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony Dec. 19 at Ware Elementary School. Students received certificates to mark their completion of the 10-week curriculum that taught them how to be drug free and make sound life choices.