Editor's Note: Earlier this month, some 700 Citrus County fifth-graders graduated from Drug Abuse Resistance Education, a 17-week program that uses DARE officers to teach pupils how to avoid drugs, alcohol and other substance abuse. The program also shows pupils how to make positive choices and avoid peer pressure. DARE is coordinated by the Citrus County Sheriff's Office and the school district. Today, Top of the Class features DARE essays written by Yvonne Wellman and Amber Henry, who recently completed the fifth grade at Hernando Elementary School.
The DARE program is fun and educational. The DARE officer is funny and keeps your attention. The whole class always looked forward to his visit. We really learned a lot of things. Much of the stuff I already knew about. It still never bored me. I liked the program.
The one thing I learned that really surprised me was that only about 14 percent of the middle school students used drugs or alcohol. I really thought that more would. That was good to hear since I'm going to middle school next year.
Peer pressure is getting stronger all the time. I knew a long time ago that I will never do any kind of drug. I have asthma and smoking cigarettes around me is awful. I feel that same way about all drugs, alcohol and violence.
The DARE program has made me much more aware of things I need to know to be sure my mind and body remain safe and healthy. The people we hang around with have more power over us than we sometimes know. I want the friends I have to be completely drug-free, like me. The different choices we are beginning to make now will make us the kind of adult we turn out to be.
All people need to stay drug-free, alcohol-free and violence-free. We all need to take care of our minds, our bodies and of our world. It is the only one we will ever have.
DARE has helped me understand why kids mess around with things that are not good for us. It also has helped give me more confidence to stand up for the way I want my life to be.
Using tobacco causes yellow teeth, gum disease and cancer. Alcohol hurts our brains, our livers and overall life. Even drugs bought at stores are harmful if we don't follow directions. DARE helped us think of all these things.
I think DARE is a very good program. I think it does a lot to teach kids not to do drugs. I think it should be around for a very long time. Kids should get more interested in DARE because it is a very good program.
I've learned that drugs are very harmful and dangerous to people. Violence is very wrong also. Kids should not be hurting one another just because of some old disagreement. Why would kids want to hurt one another? I mean, they can just talk the disagreement over. It is very wrong to hurt people when you can just talk the disagreement over. Kids should not be doing drugs either. They think they are so cool doing drugs. How can they think it is cool when it's hurting them? Drugs can ruin their whole life. Why waste their life on just drugs? The DARE program can teach you a lot about drugs and how they can hurt you.
I think it is important because you just don't want to waste your life on drugs. People don't take it seriously about drugs. They just think that drugs can make them high and cool. They think everybody will like them if they do drugs. I think you should stay away from violence too because you can get very hurt from violence. I think when people hurt one another they feel good. But it does not feel good to the person who is getting hurt. People just don't get it that drugs can hurt you and that violence is wrong. I am glad that I am drug-free and that I do not hurt anybody.