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Bismarck Holds D.A.R.E. Graduation

Posted on February 4, 2014 by in Hometown, Missouri, News

Approximately 40 Bismarck fifth graders took part in Friday’s D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony held in the school cafeteria under the direction of St. Francois County Deputy Gary Carver, long-time D.A.R.E. instructor (back row, middle). At the program, two students — Jathan Thilking and Teagan Ryder — read their required essays aloud to their fellow students.

Approximately 40 Bismarck fifth graders took part in Friday’s D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony held in the school cafeteria under the direction of St. Francois County Deputy Gary Carver, long-time D.A.R.E. instructor (back row, middle). At the program, two students — Jathan Thilking and Teagan Ryder — read their required essays aloud to their fellow students.

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Read at dailyjournalonline.com

Bismarck, MO — Despite a disjointed school schedule St. Francois County Deputy Gary Carver described as “the worst ever” caused by numerous closings due to bad weather, there was a pride and excitement among Bismarck Elementary fifth graders as they gathered in the school cafeteria Friday morning for D.A.R.E. graduation.

Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E., is an international education program begun in 1984 that seeks to prevent use of controlled drugs, membership in gangs, and violent behavior.

Carver has served as D.A.R.E. instructor in St. Francois County for 17 years and has seen more than 10,000 graduate from the program in that time.

D.A.R.E. instructor, Deputy Gary Carver, speaks to several Bismarck fifth graders prior to Friday’s graduation ceremony held at the school. Carver has, in a period of 17 years, overseen the graduation of more than 10,000 students from the D.A.R.E. program in St. Francois County.

D.A.R.E. instructor, Deputy Gary Carver, speaks to several Bismarck fifth graders prior to Friday’s graduation ceremony held at the school. Carver has, in a period of 17 years, overseen the graduation of more than 10,000 students from the D.A.R.E. program in St. Francois County.

“One thing I’ve learned about this group is that they are a very caring and compassionate group of kids who care about each other,” he said. “Even with the ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances that made the schedule so chopped up and inconsistent, they hung with us and stuck it out. They were really, really good students. Everywhere I go, you guys are right there at the top.”

Carver also had words of appreciation for the Bismarck school staff.

“Without a doubt, they are some of the hardest working, most professional and deeply caring teachers that I know,” he said.

Two students chosen as D.A.R.E. essay winners for their classrooms read their 200- to 300-word essays aloud at the ceremony.

Melanie Bowen’s student was Jathan Thilking.

Reading from his essay, Thilking said, “Deputy Carver taught me how drugs can destroy your body. I think that, not only do they destroy your body, they can also destroy your life and your future. They can rip joy from your family and friends.”

He went on to explain the many ways in which drugs can harm those who use them.

“Each drug has a different effect on your body,” Thilking read. “Tobacco will cause your teeth to yellow, get wrinkles, dry out your skin and give you bad breath. Alcohol will slow down your body, damage every organ in your body and can increase your risk for several types of health problems. Marijuana will cause short-term memory loss, breathing problems and it affects your body and brain.”

Thilking next turned to the topic of bullying.

“(Deputy Carver) said a bully is someone who uses all their power to control or hurt somebody,” he read. “There are several different types of bullying. Cyberbullying — that is when it happens online, physical bullying is another one that is when somebody will physically hurt someone else, and then there is verbal bullying and I think this one happens the most. This is name calling, making fun of someone or to make a verbal threat. I think a bully is someone who spreads rumors, excludes someone out of a group on purpose or tells stories told to them that were meant to be private.”

Chelsea McFarland’s student was Teagan Ryder.

Reading from her essay, which she had turned into a creative story, Ryder said, “My story is about three kids — Zach, Luke and Emma. They are best friends. Chloe is the popular girl having a ‘Sweet 16’ party. She is handing out invitations. Zach, Luke and Emma were surprised to get an invitation because they weren’t considered ‘cool.’ They asked their mom if they could go, but their mom said no because they did not approve of Chloe. She had been rude by calling them names and their moms did not want them to get embarrassed. They felt disappointed and mad.”

After telling their mothers they are going to the library, the three kids instead go to Chloe’s party where they are each offered a beer by a boy named Brandon.

“Luke and Emma said ‘no,’” continued Ryder. “Zach, on the other hand, said, ‘I’ll try one.’ He liked it and, so, he wanted another one and another one until he could not walk straight. Luke and Emma said it was time to go. Zach insisted on staying with his new friends. So Luke and Emma went home. Later that evening, Brandon was taking Zach home. They got into an accident. Zach was thrown out of the car with serious injuries. Brandon was not so lucky.”

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Carver was presented a gift by the students and teachers, after which he read an essay to the students entitled “Attitude.”

The final words of the essay Carver read were these: “We cannot change the past and we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one strength we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.”

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