Morgantown School begins D.A.R.E. program

Published 10:07 am Wednesday, October 24, 2007

NATCHEZ — Students at Morgantown Elementary simply will not tolerate drug use.

This school year marks the first year a D.A.R.E. program has been introduced to Morgantown’s students.

Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E, is a program geared toward early education and drug prevention for middle school students.

Email newsletter signup

The D.A.R.E. program at Morgantown is the first of its kind in the Natchez – Adams County School District.

And school officials have high hopes for the program’s freshman year.

“We got an offer from Sheriff Ronny Brown and we took it,” Morgantown’s principal Fred Marsalis said.

D.A.R.E. programs are traditionally operated, in a school setting, by the local law enforcement agency.

Marsalis said when he received Brown’s offer he was thrilled.

“It’s a chance for kids to do that much better,” he said.

And so far the kids like it.

When Adams County Sheriff’s deputy Jack Smith led the class through a pop-quiz the students shout their answers in unison.

“What do you say if someone offers you drugs?” Smith asked.

“No!” the class shouts. They relish an opportunity to yell in class.

Smith is the sheriff’s deputy in charge of the D.A.R.E. program at Morgantown.

Having served in law enforcement since 1971, Smith said he never pictured himself teaching in a classroom.

Though Smith may not have pictured himself as an educator the kids in his class think he doing a pretty good job.

Corey Ashley, 11, said he likes the class and its instructor.

Ashley, with a D.A.R.E. textbook in his hand, pointed out what areas of the body different drugs impact.

Ashley is particularly interested in cigarette smoking as drug use since he is asthmatic.

He said his class has had discussions on cigarettes and their glorification in films.

But Ashley has a simple solution.

“If they smoke I just won’t be their friend,” he said.

According to D.A.R.E. material, 400,000 people a year die from tobacco.

Smith, while concerned with cigarette use, has bigger worries.

“There is evil waiting for these children in the world,” he said. “I want them to be aware of that.”

Morgantown has geared their program exclusively to fifth-graders, and that puts them in a prime age range according to Smith.

“Most have not seen too much negative influence,” Smith said of his 10-12 year old pupils.

In the coming years Marsalis said he would like to expand the D.A.R.E. curriculum to include the sixth-grade class.

Brown said if this year’s pilot programs goes well expansion should not be a problem.