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Students learn to say no to drugs

Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — William Heckard, left, exchanges a high five with Daren the Lion during the D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony at Concordia Parish Academy of Math, Science & Technology on Wednesday afternoon.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — William Heckard, left, exchanges a high five with Daren the Lion during the D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony at Concordia Parish Academy of Math, Science & Technology on Wednesday afternoon.

NATCHEZ — Concordia Parish has educated another generation on the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol.

The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office conducted its annual D.A.R.E. graduation Wednesday in hopes that participants would lead a drug-free life.

The D.A.R.E. program was created in 1983 by the Los Angeles Police Department and was implemented nationwide, as well as in 47 other countries.

Lt. Uzella Frazier said she was very proud of the graduates who completed the program.

“We have given them the skills to avoid making bad decisions,” Frazier said. “We want to promote education over intervention.”

Students honored at the ceremony include Katie Graham’s fifth-grade class; Brandon Barnes, Cloi Cummings, Zoe Davis, Matthew Franklin, Sydnee Houghton, Kami Krinsavage, Christian McGuire, Milt Neal, Chesney Seals, MaKenzie Thompson, Douglas Collins, Robresha Davis, Kobe Dillon, William Heckard, Devon Johnson, Ryan Lance, William McKeel, Cyrus Sabir, Myeah Sheppard and Rachel White.

Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Bobby Sheppard, Alderman of Ridgecrest, talks to D.A.R.E. graduates at the graduation ceremony.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Bobby Sheppard, Alderman of Ridgecrest, talks to D.A.R.E. graduates at the graduation ceremony.

Special awards issued at the ceremony included an essay contest and poster contest. Winners for the essay contest included third place, Sydnee Houghton, second place, Milt Neal, and first place, Cloi Cummings. Winners for the poster contest are third place, Brandon Barnes, second place, MaKenzie Thompson, and first place William McKeel.

First-place essay winner Cloi Cummings said she believes she will use what her D.A.R.E. officer taught her in the years to come.

“I wrote I would never do drugs, and never do bad things,” Cummings said. “I think D.A.R.E. will help me when I get older to make smart choices.”

Other schools participating in D.A.R.E. graduations include Monterey, Vidalia Upper and Ferriday Upper.

Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick said he believes the program is invaluable for the area.

“It’s important to educate kids on what to do, and to know what not to do,” he said.

D.A.R.E graduations continue at 1 p.m. today at Ferriday Upper Elementary School.