Fritsch Elementary School fifth-graders recently completed Drug Abuse Resistance Education, DARE, a national program provided locally by the Carson City Sheriff's Department to combat the spread of alcohol, tobacco and drugs with good choices.
DARE is taught to fifth-graders throughout the Carson City School District by Deputy Lisa Davis of the Carson City Sheriff's Department and two volunteer assistants. Fritsch students already graduated from the program, and as part of that had to write an essay.
"It's a good way for them to process and put together all of the different lessons that they have learned," said Davis.
The winning essays were selected by members of the sheriff's department. Each winning student received a portable CD player, as well as a gift certificate from Computer Corps. That amount was $100 for Grant Gabriel, the first-place winner, and $25 for the three runners-up.
"Actually, Sheriff (Kenny) Furlong helped read the (essays) so that the winner is picked by a team of people, not just one of us because it's impossible to choose the best essay," said Davis. "Especially at Fritsch. They were just wonderful."
Also in the fall semester, Davis worked with fifth-graders at Empire and Seeliger elementary schools. Their graduations were in December and each of those students wrote an essay. Fifth-graders in the district's other elementary schools will receive DARE training with Davis in the spring semester.
Grant's essay was chosen for first place because of the breadth of topics he covered, including use of the DARE decision-making model, peer pressure and drug facts, said Davis.
"Grant is a gifted writer," she said. "He internalized the information provided and put the concepts in his own words."
By Grant Gabriel
Life is too short and too important to waste time by making bad choices. DARE taught my class a way to take a minute to think about a problem and realize what could happen if we made the wrong decision. Most importantly, we know it is not true that "everyone is doing it."
When it comes to drugs and alcohol, just the few kids who never stopped to think first, or don't care about their future, are making the mistake of using them.
I have always told my parents they would never have to worry about me being so stupid that I would use drugs. I knew they were bad, but it just wasn't something I paid much attention to. Now in fifth grade, I'm thinking about middle school and high school and hearing stories about things that happen there and brothers and sisters of my friends that no longer seem to think beyond their noses. Some of them aren't even going to school anymore.
After hearing the DARE officer talk, I think I may know why these kids could be doing what they're doing. They didn't learn how to evaluate their choices and think about the possible outcome. They probably don't know that smoking cigarettes and marijuana will make them catch more colds and be sicker.
They don't realize they're becoming addicted. Marijuana isn't "safer" than tobacco. It has more cancer-causing chemicals than tobacco and it messes with your mind. And, not everyone is doing it - only the dumb kids who don't know any better.
I have always thought I was pretty lucky and thought about things before I did them (even if my mother tells me I don't). Now I have a way of making sure I think choices through: D - define the problem, A - assess my choices, R - respond and make the choice after finding the facts, and E - evaluate my decision. Did I make a good choice and if not, don't do it again. I care about what happens to my life and future.
Student Taylor Laird received runner-up because of her understanding of the messages advertising can send, the importance of confidence, ways to say no and the difference between good friends and not-so-good friends, Davis said.
By Taylor Laird
In DARE, I learned how to define, assess, respond and evaluate. I learned that warning labels are on advertising but they are small and in a corner. Marijuana, tobacco and alcohol affect most parts of your body.
Although I knew how to say "no," I also learned how to give them the cold shoulder (just walk away) or tell them how bad it is to drink bad things, sniff bad things and smoke bad things.
Learning all of this makes me feel better and knowing that it is really horrible to do bad things. Officer Lisa told us how and when people are confident and not. That sent a message to me that I am confident and I should try to always be that way. She also told us what good and bad friends are. It hit me that when I was thinking I had bad friends, but they were actually good friends.
Learning what DARE means helps me with life. The "d" in DARE means define. Define means describe the problem. The "a" in DARE means assess. Assess means "What are your choices?" The "r" in DARE means respond. Respond means "Make a choice." And the "e" means evaluate. Evaluate means review your decisions.
The result of DARE will help me make better choices. I will grow up stronger and smarter. When I grow up I will try my hardest not to do bad and unhealthy things. I also want to thank Officer Lisa and her assistants.
Student Courtney Gates also received runner-up for her essay. Davis said Courtney's essay was picked because of the excellent effort she made to discuss several lessons from class.
"I appreciated her comparison between peer pressure and advertising being alike because they both try to persuade a person to buy or do something," Davis said.
By Courtney Gates
I learned a lot from the DARE program and Officer Lisa. Some of the most useful things she taught me are drug advertising, peer pressure, ways to be in charge and how to tell a true friend from someone who's not your friend. I believe these skills can save your life in a real life situation.
Drug advertising and peer pressure are very important lessons. They are alike because they are both when someone is trying to persuade you to do or buy something.
We learned many ways to be in charge. Here are just some of them. Strength in numbers, avoiding a risky situation, cold shoulder, changing the subject and repeated refusal.
Another very important thing is how to tell a true friend from someone who's not your friend. A true friend is by your side even when danger is near. Someone who's not your friend will ditch you and try to get you in trouble.
One of the most important things we've learned is the DARE decision-making model. It teaches us to think before we act. The D stands for define the problems, challenge or opportunity. The A stands for assess your choices. The R stands for respond. The E stands for evaluate.
These are all very important subjects. They made me realize how dangerous the world truly can be. In conclusion, I would like to thank Officer Lisa for giving me this opportunity to participate in the DARE program. I hope this program has had as much impact on everyone else as it did on me. I believe this program can save lives.
From this day forward I will stay away from drugs. I promise to always think fast, think safe and think smart.
Ashley Wilson, also a runner-up, wrote about choices and her realization they don't always pertain to stressful decisions. She also spoke of the different types of peer pressure.
By Ashley Wilson
In DARE, I have learned about how and what the DARE decision-making model is. I have also learned skills and how the dare model can help you do the right thing.
D stands for Define. Define means think about the situation you have. A stands for assess. Assess means think about your choices. R stands for respond. Respond is when you make your decision. E stands for evaluate. Evaluate means think about your decision and if it was the right one.
Some of the choices you have are not problems. Some of the choices are good instead of bad. That is very important to know and understand.
But it is always important to know between the two so you do not end up in a bad predicament. The most important thing I've learned is peer pressure. Why I thought that it was the most important thing is because no matter what a person does to make you do something you don't want to do you have to say no.
There are other types of peer pressure like bad and good peer pressure. The other peer pressure is friendly. I didn't know about friendly. Also there's a difference between positive and friendly peer pressure.