For the first time since 2007 there are new DARE graduates in Fulton County.
Sheriff Roy Miller officiated at the ceremony at Evergreen Middle School Jan. 26 for 80 sixth-grade students. The ceremony marks what Miller hopes will be a rebirth of the program after decade-long hiatus.
And having Evergreen be the school to bring the program back was extra special to Miller.
“Evergreen was the first way back in the day to have it,” Miller said. “It was a homecoming. Evergreen was willing to work with us.”
The last time the county had a DARE program it was run by now retired Deputy Dave Hoste, Miller said. The program fell out of favor with school administrators who began to come under pressure to perform well on state tests.
That decision came at the expense of talking to students about life choices and making good decisions, Miller said. The new DARE program works to “Get real” with youth by going beyond resisting drugs.
“We give them the tools and toolbox,” Miller said. “We won’t want to see them again.”
The new program is taught by Deputy Marv Zumfelde.
A report from the U.S. Attorney General’s office, stated the program has merit and can be taught, Miller said. It promotes building social, emotional, cognitive and substance refusal skills and provides children with accurate information on rates and amounts of peer substances use.
The program is based on 20 years of research of information obtained from more than 6,000 students nationwide.
Now the emphasis is on kids seeing the police as a good influence and encouraging adults to take the time to talk to kids face to face.
“If they do that, there is a 50 percent chance kids won’t go down the wrong road,” Miller said.
The DARE program has undergone some changes now the emphasis is on life skills, Miller said. This includes decision-making and right choices, he said.
The goal is teaching a whole new generation to change the culture
Miller likens it to the younger generation that has lived with seat belts as compared to his that lived most of it not using one.
I am hoping other schools come on board next year. Wauseon will send and officer to training.
Half of a DARE officer’s wage is paid by the state Attorney General, The sheriff matches that which allows the officer to be in the school, Miller said.
“There are other grants available, we get sponsors for the T-shirts,” Miller said.
With the first class under his belt, the sheriff is positive about the program’s future.
“We are hoping these other schools come on board,” Miller said. “I think you’ll see it take off in the county again.
“I am glad it’s back. I am glad we get to work with our young kids.”
James Pruitt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org