Claymont DARE officer Sgt. Brandon McCray engages a group of sixth-grade students in a discussion about where to go to ask for help. (Photo by Stacey Carmany, Tusco TV)
Uhrichsville, Ohio - A new generation of Twin City students is learning how to make good decisions through a revamped version of a classic youth drug and alcohol prevention program.
Sixth-graders at Claymont Junior High this week are completing the final lesson of the 12-week-long DARE program headed up by Uhrichsville Police Sgt. Brandon McCray who also oversees the program at Immaculate Conception. He says DARE has gotten a makeover in recent years to make it more relevant.
“If somebody’s had DARE - I had DARE as a kid - the topics sometimes seem dramatically different from 30 years ago but DARE America, like anything else, they don’t have a problem kind of self-evaluating, revising their curriculum, adding some things,” he says.
McCray says DARE now focuses less on educating about the dangers of specific substances and more on character-building and equipping students with the tools to make good decisions.
“We have a lesson, something as simple as the topic of help. Kids are really good at asking for stuff: Can I have this? Can I have that? Can I go here? Can I have a Polar Pop? Can I download this new game? But unfortunately, fifth and sixth-grade age kids, they’re not as quick to ask for help,” he says.
McCray says the curriculum at Claymont also includes optional DARE lessons on bullying and prescription drugs.
“Obviously, with kind of the problems that the state of Ohio and other states across the country have, it is pretty beneficial that we talk about everything from the definition of what a drug is and that medication technically, by definition, is a drug,” he says.
Teacher John McClusky says DARE is a great program that addresses many of the challenges facing today’s youth.
“For us, education is all about preparing the kids for the real world and what better way to do that than bring in a program like this that talks about some issues we have in school. It talks about issues that we have in the community as far as drug addiction and alcohol addiction, but it also teaches kids valuable things like decision-making modules, what to do in a case of a bully, how to avoid bullying,” he says.
Claymont Junior High Principal Brian Watkins says they love having DARE in their school.
“It fits into a lot of the things we talk to the kids about here and this in an age group where they’re starting to see some things and they get a little bit older, so it’s nice to have that here,” he says. “Sgt. McCray does a great job with the kids, and we’re really happy to have him, and we thank Chief Beal at the Uhrichsville Police Department for allowing that to happen.”
The students will take part in a DARE graduation ceremony toward the end of the school year to celebrate completing the program.
What students are saying:
"He's a good officer, and he tells you a lot of good stuff and information." - Bree Bowman
"We're learning about bullying, how to communicate with verbal and nonverbal, people to tell what's going on and different things to help us get through life." - Brok Maurer
"I think it's been really fun so far, and you learn a lot of stuff like not to do drugs and about bullying and to be good citizens." - Ella Fawcett
"I think DARE's a good program for kids so they learn not to do things that they shouldn't and it encourages them to be a good citizen and a strong kid." - Maggie Lesieski
"I like the DARE program because at the beginning of class, we watch a short video and sometimes we do fun interactive stuff." - Matthew Debolt
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV