Fifth-graders celebrate D.A.R.E. graduation with fun day
Sgt. Ricky Vaught describes the annual D.A.R.E. Fun Day as a reward for students who spend 10 weeks (one day a week for 45 minutes to an hour) learning to make good choices and treating others with respect, while being informed about the dangers of drug use.
“There’s a big transition from the elementary school to the middle school,” said Vaught. “And if kids are going to pick up a habit or try something – whether it’s cigarettes or a drug or alcohol – it’s in those years they’ll start. What we do is kind of give them a tool, to learn about making good choices and what drugs do to you.
“It’s all about choices.”
While other communities no longer offer a D.A.R.E. program because of its cost, the Woodford County Sheriff’s Office has been offering D.A.R.E. for 31 years, according to Vaught. He said donations and fundraisers have allowed the program, which costs about $7,000 annually, to continue here. Larger cities across the country saw an increase in drug use when a decision was made to eliminate D.A.R.E. in their schools, he said.
“It is a good tool. They do learn a lot,” said Vaught, who has been involved with D.A.R.E. for 12 years. He said discussions have begun with the Versailles Police Department to begin a follow-up program in the middle and high schools beginning next school year.
“It’s a great opportunity for (the students) and me,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Sam Slone of D.A.R.E. “It’s hopefully being able to stop problems that we’re seeing on my normal duties before they happen.”
She described being able to teach the D.A.R.E. curriculum as “a great change of pace for me because not only do I get to see the stuff that’s out on the street, but then I get to educate these kids on what I’m seeing … Our whole entire D.A.R.E. motto is keeping it real … so they … have the proper tools to be able to make better decisions when they get older.”
Fifth-graders from Huntertown, Northside, Simmons and Southside elementary schools, who graduated from D.A.R.E., were invited to last Friday’s fun day at the County Park. They slid down inflatable slides and climbed onto trucks and other vehicles provided by first-responders in Versailles, Woodford County and nearby communities, including the Georgetown Police Department.
The students were given a bird’s eye view from a drone flying overhead and got to meet Wall-E, a robot operated by GPD Officer Zach Slone, who grew up in Midway.
“These aren’t toys, they’re tools,” said Versailles Police Officer Nathan Craig. “It’s nice to see the kids have fun and get to experience a little bit of the tools we work with” in law enforcement.