Students ‘DARE’ to stay drug-free

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2004

RIDGECREST &045;&045; Fourteen Ridgecrest Elementary fifth-graders made a pledge to be drug-free Wednesday.

The students stood before their DARE officer, fellow students, teachers and parents at the 13th annual graduation ceremony. DARE is Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

Deputy Phillip Webber has been spending one hour per week with the students for 10 weeks. &uot;They’ve taught me a lot, and I hope I’ve taught them a lot,&uot; Webber told the crowd.

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Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell urged students to keep their DARE lessons with them. &uot;I want you to think about (what you learned) the first time you have a chance to drink or to take drugs,&uot; Maxwell said. &uot;Think about your mom and daddy and how much they love you.&uot;

Maxwell also asked parents in the crowd to take time for their children.

&uot;Be a part of their life, keep communication lines open,&uot; he said.

DARE is a worldwide program that teaches students about peer pressure, the effects of drugs and violence, Webber said.

The program is most intensive on the fifth-grade level, but officers attend kindergarten through fourth-grade classes occasionally. Webber said he plans to start a program at the middle school soon.

During the program, Jordan Hinkston, Denzel Demby and J.D. Hollowell were recognized for writing essays that stood above the rest. Hollowell read his essay to the crowd.

&uot;I’ve learned a lot,&uot; he read. &uot;Not doing drugs and alcohol is really important because they can hurt you. I need to be drug free because it is dangerous, bad, unhealthy and stupid.&uot;

Prizes were also given to three award winners in the poster category. Tyler Sanders won first place, Lauren Secrest got second and D’Siree McCurdy won third.

Other graduates included Markelle Bell, Devonte’ Demby, Tiffany Dixon, Kylea Drane, Christopher Higginbotham, Shanice Poole, Cartilius Spurs and Christina Turner.

Students from Huntington and Monterey graduated on Tuesday. Ferriday Upper students will graduate at 9 a.m. today and Vidalia Upper will hold graduation at 6 p.m.

Concordia Parish had a total of 210 DARE graduates this year.