Hats off to local DARE leaders

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On April 5, I had the honor of attending the Cassville Middle School DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) graduation ceremony. This year, 137 sixth grade students completed the DARE program, which is designed to teach children how to resist drugs and alcohol and give them tips for making constructive decisions. The DARE graduation ceremony was hosted by Jennifer Luckey, who serves as the Cassville Police Department's DARE and school outreach officer. Luckey has served in this position for several years now, and I would like to commend her on the work she has put into Cassville's DARE program.

The 2013 DARE graduation ceremony showcased the support Luckey has garnered for the program over the last few years. Not only were several Cassville Middle School students in attendance, but Cassville Police Chief Dana Kammerlohr, Cassville Mayor Bill Shiveley, Corp. Donald Privett, Cassville Court Clerk Jennifer Privett and several other community members attended the special event. Luckey, who also assists with the Cassville High School SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) program, received additional support and assistance from several CHS SADD members and CHS SADD advisors Elaine Boles and Derek Judd during the ceremony.

The graduation ceremony, which was planned by Luckey, allowed six CMS students to read outstanding DARE essays in front of their peers, honored each sixth grade student who participated in this year's program, offered a slide show of photos taken throughout the year and featured a performance by the DARE band. In addition, the graduation ceremony offered interactive elements for the sixth grade graduates, who had the opportunity to sing the DARE song, which includes the words "D, I won't do drugs. A, won't have an attitude. R, I will respect myself. E, I will educate me."

It is my hope that Luckey's hard work will pay off, giving each one of these students the courage and tools to resist drugs and alcohol and make positive decisions throughout their lives.

I must mention that the Barry County DARE program also has an outstanding leader, Larry Stockton. He hosts DARE graduation ceremonies for Exeter and Shell Knob students each fall and Purdy, Southwest and Wheaton students each spring. During these ceremonies, students also have the opportunity to share DARE essays and are honored for completing the program. Stockton includes a slide show and interactive activities and closes each special event by inviting all those in attendance to join a circle of friends to show support for DARE graduates. I have seen Stockton in action for a number of years. He is a great role model for area children.

If you have never had the opportunity to attend a DARE graduate ceremony I would recommend planning to attend one in the future. Stockton will hold his spring DARE graduation at Purdy on May 3.

Lindsay Reed