Makaiyla Reed, an eighth grader at Smith Middle School receives her D.A.R.E. graduation diploma and t-shirt from D.A.R.E. Officer Elwood McConnell.

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- The Fort Huachuca Drug Abuse Resistance Education program concluded a successful 2011 campaign with a series of graduations in December.

"I am so proud of the students graduating today and the program should continue and always be in schools," Connie Johnson, General Myer Elementary Principal, told the audience at the Dec. 6 graduation. D.A.R.E. is an educational tool used to give kids the skills they need to avoid drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence, the D.A.R.E. website states.

"We teach the fifth graders about drugs, peer pressure, ways to say no, bullying and making good choices in a 13 week program," said D.A.R.E. Officer Greg Davidson, United States of America Department of the Army Police. It is Davidson's second year teaching the class.

"I have taught probably 1,200 students including this group over the past three years, and this has to be the most awesome class yet, "said D.A.R.E. Officer Elwood McConnell, United States of America Department of the Army Police, to the eighth grade graduating class at Smith Middle School on Dec. 12.

"My favorite part was the drunk goggles because you actually get to see what happens to you when you are drunk," said graduating eighth grader, Makaiyla Reed. "D.A.R.E. is very important because if you haven't been in D.A.R.E. you wouldn't know the consequences of drugs," she added.

The 2011 graduating class at Myer elementary had 97 fifth grade graduates while Smith had 108 eighth grade students. The graduates receive a D.A.R.E. shirt and diploma after finishing the course. The programs are different to cater to the different age groups.

Some students receive special awards for best essay or an honor award, these recipients are given an either an extra certificate or a medal along with a Daren the Lion stuffed animal. Daren is the mascot for the program.

"D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of our nation's school districts and in more than 43 countries around the world," the D.A.R.E. website said.

Page last updated Thu December 15th, 2011 at 11:23