Boonton Township’s D.A.R.E. Program Turns 25
Boonton Township’s Police Department marked the 25th anniversary of its D.A.R.E. program by praising students for making good choices.
Boonton Township Patrolman Thomas Cacciabeve became the town’s first DARE instructor in 1991. From left to right, former Mayor Doug Cabana, Cacciabeve, and retired Police Chief Anthony Mini. (Photo: Courtesy of Boonton Township Police Department).
Rockaway Valley Elementary School hosted a graduation ceremony this week for this year’s class of fifth graders who just completed the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program started locally by Patrolman Thomas Cacciabeve in 1991.
The program is now under the direction of Cacciabeve’s son, Sgt. Thomas Cacciabeve.
“When I was younger, he brought me to a few of his fifth grade D.A.R.E. graduation ceremonies and let me watch,” said the sergeant. “What I probably remember most, was how much he genuinely enjoyed teaching the D.A.R.E. program.”
Cacciabeve followed in his father’s footsteps when he was hired by the Boonton Township Police Department in 2008 and then again in 2011 when he became a D.A.R.E. instructor.
“I asked my lieutenant to consider me for the position,” he said. “I was selected later that year and certified as a D.A.R.E. instructor in September of 2011. What made the occasion even more special was knowing that I was taking my father’s position in the program after he taught D.A.R.E. for over 20 years.”
Cacciabeve said he wanted to do this because the students and teachers at Rockaway Valley School gave his father, who retired in 2012, some of the fondest memories of his career.
Cacciabeve currently teaches the fifth grade D.A.R.E. program at Rockaway Valley School just as his father did. The idea for the program came from the school’s 1991 administration.
They were interested in getting a D.A.R.E. program set up to give township students a leg up when it came to sensitive topics like smoking, drinking and drugs.
Over the years the program has adapted and grown.
“Twenty years ago, there was no need to cover topics like cyber bullying, now, we spend several weeks on that,” Cacciabeve said.
Students look forward to the spending time with Cacciabeve and seventh grade D.A.R.E. Patrolman Joseph Dagostino.
“A lot of the students have older brothers and sisters who went through the D.A.R.E. program at one point, and because of that they are excited to go through the program themselves,” said Cacciabeve.
D.A.R.E. teaches students how to make informed decisions about health and social and moral dilemmas. Its curriculum aims to help them communicate with confidence. Cacciabeve said he thinks that students aren’t the only ones who benefit from the program.
“We strongly feel that the D.A.R.E. program plays a vital and essential role within our community. This program allows us to establish a positive relationship between our students and the members of the Boonton Township Police Department early on in these children’s lives,” he said.