Heidelberg students D.A.R.E. to be drug-free
December 6, 2012
HEIDELBERG, Germany - More than 80 fifth-graders from Patrick Henry Elementary school in Heidelberg joined the ranks of nearly 40 million children around the world, Nov. 27.
After 10 weeks of instruction on topics like drugs, alcohol, decision-making skills, resisting peer pressure and alternatives for drug use and violence, the students received graduation certificates for completing the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.
Their instructor, U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg D.A.R.E. officer Sgt. Jeremy Pough, hopes the students will carry this training with them well beyond their elementary school days.
"The kids have learned a lot over the previous weeks. We've met 45 minutes each week to discuss the effects of drugs and how it can affect their future dreams and what they wish to pursue. It's really important, because these are skills that they can keep with them for the rest of their lives," he said.
This is Pough's second year serving as the garrison's D.A.R.E. officer. He also runs the Heidelberg Middle School program for seventh graders.
"I volunteered for it, because I like working with children, and I feel that coming into the school has benefited me, as well. I get to learn more about the kids and the community," he said. "It's a good feeling especially, because I have a small child at home, and watching the kids grow over the past few weeks and gain the knowledge has helped me a lot."
One of Pough's students, fifth-grader Tomryanna Perry, shared some of the things she learned during their time in the program. "I learned how drugs are harmful for your body.
You shouldn't use drugs. Just because your friends may be doing it, doesn't mean you should," Perry said.
Fellow fifth-grader Amelia Stevens offered this advice to kids who may be faced with the decision to take drugs: "I would tell them that it's really bad to take drugs, and if they know anybody who is taking drugs, then they should tell them that they are really bad," Stevens said. "You shouldn't take drugs if you want to have a better future."
Many of the students said they were excited to complete the D.A.R.E. program and finally receive their certificates.
"It feels like I'm a senior," said Catherine San Miguel. Even before the graduation ceremony, San Miguel said she had already picked out the perfect spot for her certificate. "I'm going to put it on the fridge because I eat food every day and that way I'll be able to see it every day," she said.
Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth J. Kraus was the guest speaker for the event. "To accomplish any success, drugs cannot be a part of your future. Today we celebrate your accomplishments," he said.
"Every day, more students must decide against using drugs, and scientific studies have shown that their grades have improved, their health has improved and they overall become happier children and have more fun," Kraus said.
"I wish the DARE program had been around when I was your age, for if it were, some of my classmates would still be alive today," he added.
Afterward, Kraus, Pough, school principal Allison Peltz and the D.A.R.E. mascot presented each of the graduates with certificates and awards. Some of the students were also given a chance to read their essays on being drug-free to the audience.
Due to the garrison's scheduled deactivation next year, Pough said that this will be the school's final D.A.R.E. graduation.