FORT RILEY, Kan. (Dec. 23, 2015) -- Students, parents and teachers gathered in the gymnasium of Ware Elementary, Dec. 16, to celebrate the pledge of a lifetime 5th grade students made to themselves and everyone. They pledged to stay drug free.

Fifth grade students of Ware take a 10-week course during their first semester through the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E.

Sgt. Brian Blessing, 73rd Military Police Detachment, 97th Military Battalion, is the D.A.R.E. officer who teaches the course. He said they discusses the effects of drugs, alcohol and other abusive substances and that lessons also include discussions on peer pressure, bullying and anger.

Erica Flenoury is the Family support coordinator of Ware and helps run the D.A.R.E. curriculum with Blessing. This year she had a daughter who went through the program.

"I think it's important as a parent because I already talk to my kids about many of the things they discuss in D.A.R.E., so it's a good reinforcement," Flenoury said. "To have another adult that they respect tell them 'Hey tobacco is bad, don't get involved with drugs' is good for them."

The final portion of the curriculum is for the students to write an essay about what they learned. Blessing chose the top four essays and those students read what they wrote to the audience that afternoon.

Two of the winners wrote about what they learned about the penalties of doing drugs and what they can do when confronted with them. Overall winner Crystal Adams and winner Luis Delgado wrote their essays about how the course helped them deal with their own issues. Delgado wrote about how D.A.R.E. helped him overcome his anger and Adams wrote about how she learned to deal with bullying which had impacted her since kindergarten.

For essay winner Madeline Gee and her mother Evelyn Gee, Family of Chaplain (Maj.) Shawn Gee, 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, going through the D.A.R.E. program gave them something to share.

"I went through D.A.R.E. as a kid, actually, when I think it first kind of started," Evelyn said. "It's a great opportunity for kids to learn about how to make good decisions in the face of adversity in an early time in their life. The earlier they learn it, I think the better it sticks with them."