630 students from across St. Mary Parish graduated from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program this year. The 10 week long D.A.R.E. program teaches students good decision making skills so that they are better equipped to lead safe and healthy lives. Lessons include the dangers of drug abuse, how to resist and refuse peer pressure, and how to take a stand against bullying. The program is designed to boost students’ social skills and enhance their self esteem which is a key factor in contending with these issues. At the conclusion of program, as a graduation requirement, the 5th grade students are asked to write an essay describing what they have learned. The essays are often narratives of personal experiences of bullying or peer pressure and explain how the students will use or have used their D.A.R.E. skills to overcome those challenges.
Graduates received certificates, pencils, stickers and other D.A.R.E. memorabilia to celebrate their accomplishments. The St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office manages the program in 7 schools across the parish for approximately 500 students. This year, The Sheriff’s Office also filled in at Morgan City schools bringing the total number of graduates to 630. Funding for the DARE program is provided in part through grants and the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association Honorary Membership Program.
Sheriff Mark Hebert and D.A.R.E. Officer Corey Burgess with Raintree Elementary graduates
Patterson Mayor Rodney Grogan speaking to the graduates of Patterson Junior High School
Guest speaker Detective Buddy Rogers at Bayou Vista Elementary School
Guest speaker Morgan City Police Officer Janada Anslum speaking at Julia B. Maitland