October 17, 2017
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“In the hands of this child”

Posted on February 7, 2017 by in Hometown, Missouri

Clever D.A.R.E. graduates perform a skit at the January 20, 2017 graduation ceremony

Clever Middle School students graduate from D.A.R.E.

In photo: Clever D.A.R.E. graduates perform a skit at the Jan. 20 graduation ceremony.

Rows and rows of Clever students sit on bleachers in the Clever Middle School gym Jan. 20. Sporting dark-blue D.A.R.E. shirts, the third- and fourth-graders listened as Christian County Sheriff’s Office D.A.R.E. Officer Bill Whitaker reads “A Child Is” by Abraham Lincoln — substituting “this child” with “these students.”

“A Child Is”

A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started.

This child is going to sit where you are sitting and, when you are gone, attend to those things which you think are important.

You may adopt all the policies you please, but how they are carried out depends on this child.

This child will assume control of your cities, states and nations.

This child is going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities and corporations.

The fate of humanity is in the hands of this child.

– Abraham Lincoln

“You may adopt all the policies you please, but how they are carried out depends on these students,” he says. “These students will assume control of your cities, states and nations.”

It’s fitting because, at the same time, 1,063 miles away in Washington D.C., the 45th president of the United States takes his oath of office.
D.A.R.E. is commonly perceived as an anti-drug program. And while a large part of the classes focus on preventing substance abuse, it’s much more than that, Whitaker says. The ultimate goal is to help students make wise choices which will lead to successful lives.

“We all know it is not always the thing that is the problem,” he says. “It’s us. We make choices … A lot of times it’s the choices we make that lead us down a bad path.”

And maybe, Whitaker says — just maybe — it will be one of the students sitting before him who will someday become president of the United States. Anything is possible.

“The choices and decisions you make over the next six years of your life determines if these things come to pass,” he says. “The names on that ballot may be the same names on these certificates.”

Whitaker turns his attention to the family members sitting in the adjacent section of bleachers and explains how, on day one of the program, he gives students a questionnaire to complete about themselves. The last question asks who they look up to.

“They always say a family member,” Whitaker says solemnly. “So, your support and encouragement goes a long way. Your actions speak much louder than words.”

But, when parents and teachers aren’t around, will Clever students have integrity, Whitaker asks? Will they make those good choices? Will they contribute to a brighter future for themselves, their communities, nation and world?

The students cheer “yes” loudly in reply.

“You are the future. You realize that? It’s really true, and it’s going to go by fast,” Whitaker says. “That’s why what you do here is so important.”

As Abraham Lincoln said, the future of humanity truly is in the hands of “these students.”

This article by Hanna Smith was originally published on Christian County Headliner News.

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