Fifth-graders celebrate drug-free message
AVON PARK — It has music, dancing, role models and a skit with a few bad guys and plenty of good ones bearing a message to make the right decisions and live drug-free.
The annual D.A.R.E. Day Celebration Thursday featured about a 1,000 fifth-grade students from the Highlands County School District’s elementary schools who have been taught the Drug Awareness Resistance Education principles of being drug- and violence-free.
Right (click to view full image): Detectives acting as drug dealers are arrested by local law enforcement officers on stage during a “Bad Boys” skit where the men act out a drug deal gone bad at the D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony at South Florida State College Thursday. About 1,000 fifth graders from around Highlands County attended the graduation for completion of their schools’ Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education program. KILE BREWER/STAFF.
The celebration, which was held at the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts at South Florida State College, offered plenty of opportunities for students to scream and shout, and they happily obliged.
Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Mike Broad, who oversees the school resource officers, introduced each school’s D.A.R.E. deputy.
The students clapped and cheered as the deputies were introduced.
High school students, who serve as D.A.R.E. role models, provided reminders about some of the core D.A.R.E. principles.
The Avon Park role models spoke about the importance of staying in school.
“Whatever your dream is, stay in school to achieve your dream,” they advised.
The Sebring High role models spoke about child abuse.
“No one has the right to abuse you,” they said. “Always tell an adult. Call the Child Abuse hot-line and stop child abuse.”
The Lake Placid High role models reminded the students to make good decisions.
“You don’t have to fit in by drinking and smoking,” they said. “Follow the D.A.R.E. Decision model; it will work in any situation.”
Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton said it is a good day any time they have the opportunity to give kids a positive message about life, engage with their friends and classmates and give them tips to stay away from drugs and violence.
“This is an exciting day for me because this will be my last D.A.R.E. celebration,” she said. “What is interesting is my grand-daughter is in this fifth-grade group and she was a brand new baby when I became sheriff.”
The fifth-graders enjoyed the performance of The Avon Park Diamond Steppers, who offered an energetic mix of hip hop type dance with a touch of cheer-leading moves.
In one routine, they danced to Rihanna’s hit “Work” and in another they chanted — “We don’t do drugs.”
Nala Price sang a couple of popular songs that proved to be perfect sing-alongs – the Charlie Puth tune “One Call Away” and the catchy Shawn Mendes song “Stitches.”
Broad introduced the sheriff’s office’s “Bad Boys Skit,” saying “If you don’t make safe and responsible decisions this could happen to you.” As three casually dressed men play-acted a drug deal going down, they quickly got taken down by about a dozen deputies from the sheriff’s office, including a couple of law enforcement K-9s.
This all happened to the tune of the Inner Circle song “Bad Boys,” which was the theme song for the early 1990s television show “Cops.”
Grace Bible Lead Pastor Dustin Woods went into the audience to ask students what they wanted to be when they grew up.
The responses included: cop, doctor, veterinarian, scientist and anesthesiologist.
Whatever you decide to do, the only way to reach your goal is through hard work, dedication and good decisions, Woods said.
“I dare you to be a difference maker,” he said.
The celebration kicked off with California Toe Jam, Sebring’s good times oldies band, which performed tunes such as “Takin Care of Business” and “Louie Louie,” that sparked students to get on their feet and dance.
This article was originally published on Highlands Today.