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Fifth-Graders Graduate from D.A.R.E.

Posted on December 19, 2016 by in California, Hometown, News

Diversion officer Heather Baker congratulates three of the winning students who were chosen to read their D.A.R.E. essays at Tuesday's graduation ceremony. From left are Baker, Reese Dahline, Sade Muessel, and Anna Harrington.Police Chief William Imboden is visible in the background. Photo by Jesse Duarte/Star.

Fifth-graders at St. Helena Elementary School graduated from the D.A.R.E. program on Tuesday armed with facts, statistics and solid advice about how to prevent youth drug abuse, alcoholism and bullying.

In photo (click to view full image): Diversion officer Heather Baker congratulates three of the winning students who were chosen to read their D.A.R.E. essays at Tuesday’s graduation ceremony. From left are Baker, Reese Dahline, Sade Muessel, and Anna Harrington.Police Chief William Imboden is visible in the background. Photo by Jesse Duarte/Star.

“It’s moved beyond just drug abuse resistance,” said Police Chief William Imboden, who was on hand for the ceremony. “It’s about how to resist bad decisions, how to communicate, how to (build) emotional awareness.”

Each student went through a series of courses, wrote an essay, and received a certificate and a D.A.R.E. T-shirt at Tuesday’s ceremony. Four winners were chosen to read their essays aloud: Anna Harrington, Sade Muessel, Reese Dahline and Yamil Gomez.

Harrington provided tips on resisting peer pressure to try drugs or alcohol: change the subject, avoid places where people are drinking or smoking, or make an excuse like, “I have to go to the library to pick up a book before it closes.”

Harrington said there are 75,000 alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. each year, and cigarette smoke contains more than 200 harmful chemicals.

Muessel said more than 400,000 Americans die every year from smoking cigarettes, which contain tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine. Smoking causes bad breath, tooth decay, and cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, bladder, stomach and colon.

Given all the risks, “Why would anyone want to smoke?” Muessel asked.

Dahline said 50,000 Americans die each year from secondhand smoke. “You can not only kill yourself, but others,” she said.

A hard drug can stay in your body for up to 10 years. “That means that it has 10 years to try to get you addicted again,” Dahline said.

Gomez was absent on Tuesday, so Baker read his essay for him. It described how alcohol damages teenagers’ developing brains and reduces blood flow to the heart.

If a friend offers you a beer, you can make an excuse, change the subject, “or just come out and say, ‘No, I don’t want one,” Gomez wrote.

The four winners received medals and large goodie bags. Twenty runners-up also received goodie bags.

This article was originally published on St. Helena Star.

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