By Nancy Gutierrez
More than 200 middle schoolers were honored with certificates of recognition for successfully completing classes on drug prevention.
The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is an eight week course designed to teach students, at an early age, about the dangers and effects of drug use. Each year sixth graders at Wilson Middle School are visited by the DARE officer from the Exeter Police Department.
Armon Estrada is new to the DARE program, this group of teens was his first class ever. For weeks he spoke to classes about what drugs do to young bodies that are still developing. At the end of the program the students wrote promise essays that explained how they would stay drug free.
"The first time I was offered drugs was when I was in sixth grade," Estrada said. "It wasn't by a bad person it was one of my older friends."
He told students parents and teachers present that the only reason he said no to drugs was because his brothers had set an example by not using drugs and because he had grown up hearing that drugs were bad.
"The promise essay isn't for your parents or me," he said. "It's a promise to yourself, because we wont be there the first time you are offered drugs. It is the choices we make when no one is looking that define our character.."
Eight essays were chosen from as the top essays from each class. Then Estrada along with a review committee chose the top essay out of the eight. Angelica Garcia wrote the winning essay. In it she writes; "If you do drugs, quit and people might love you more. If your friend or someone you don't know asks if you want to smoke or do drugs, say no and be proud of yourself.."
The other eight essay writers include Tori Sullivan, Raegan Heitzig, Kayla Sandoval, Bayley Hurick, Rebeccah TerHune, Sharon Ross, and Campbell Upupana.. Estrada also commended the hard work of two students, Daniel Lovik and Steven Willeford during the weekly course.
Estrada made a promise of his own to the students in the program. He vowed not to drink or smoke as long as he was the DARE officer.
"I will chose not to [smoke or drink] to show that it can be done," Estrada said.
Each of the students graduating were called to the stage and presented with their certificates and a bumper sticker for their parents. The students were also treated to a carnival after school.