On March 10, fifth-graders from Dan J. Kubacak Elementary graduated the DARE program class of 2017 for the first time in over 10 years in Santa Fe Independent School District. The bleachers of the Kubacak gym were filled with teachers, parents, family members, guests and district staff.

In the past, the program was focused on the dangers of drugs with DARE standing for Drug Awareness Resistance Education. The program today focuses on making good choices. The DARE instructors spent a total of 10 weeks with the students. Their instruction and discussions focused on facts of alcohol and tobacco abuse, how to deal with stress, communication skills (effective and confident, verbal and nonverbal), what to do in situations of bullying, being good citizens and how to deal with peer pressure when someone tries to influence them to do something they don’t want to do. One of the tools the instructors used to ensure the students were receiving the message was the DARE decision making model — define, assess, respond, evaluate. Throughout the program, the students participated in role-play; work with partners, work independently and at one point, even included collaborative conversations including 75 kids.

During the course of their instruction, the DARE graduates were provided an opportunity to show their artistic side and make a poster that depicted qualities or techniques they learned. The posters submitted were displayed at the graduation ceremony. The students also had an opportunity to submit an essay reflective of the DARE lessons studied in the program. In each of the fifteen classes, one essay was chosen that was most representative of the DARE concepts. It was not an easy task to pick just one winner. Of the fifteen winners, the top three were selected. The top three winners were asked to step forward and read their essays before their peers, teachers, family members and guests.

According to Officer Elizabeth Moore, “It has been a learning experience for all of us, and we hope they will take the skills they have learned all through life. Officer Crystal Teague and I want to thank all the teachers for their help and support. At times, we faced some challenges and a few hiccups, but we have learned from it and will continue to improve the program for everyone. We especially want to thank our counselors; Laura Timmons and Theresa Fatheree for helping us organize the program and being our voice. We would also like to extend a thank you to the principal, Destini Martin, and assistant principals, Andrea Hull and Casey Adoor. And lastly, of course we want to thank Dr. Leigh Wall, our superintendent, and Chief Walter Braun, our SFISD Police Chief, for working together to bring the DARE program back to Santa Fe. We hope it will continue and help make a positive impact on the students in Santa Fe ISD.”

The DARE program certainly aligns with our mission statement in fulfilling our district goal to prepare all members of the Santa Fe Independent School District learning community to achieve and succeed through innovative strategies and collaborative relationships.

Patti Hanssard

is the assistant superintendent for human resources and the public relations officer for SFISD.

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