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DARE program stresses good choices

SOME LIFE LESSONS — Wells Township Police Sgt. Sean Norman, DARE officer for Buckeye Local Schools, shares some final lessons with second-graders at Buckeye North Elementary following a 10-week program. -- Contributed

BRILLIANT — The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program wrapped up in several classes at Buckeye North Elementary School, but not before providing students with some key information to help them make good choices.

Wells Township Police Sgt. Sean Norman, DARE officer for Buckeye Local Schools, concluded 10-week-long lessons for second-, fourth- and fifth-graders but will keep instructing sixth- and eighth-grade students for the rest of the school year. Lessons range from drugs and peer pressure to stranger danger and are age-appropriate according to the pupil. Norman led second-graders on a final refresher course on what to do and what not to do in various situations, even acting out some scenarios with the children. Incidents included being approached by strangers, Halloween safety and finding a gun, while kids also were peppered with questions about how they would respond to seeing a younger sibling with a potentially dangerous substance. He said while the topics vary, the lesson for all ages is how to make good choices.

“They find out why it’s important to learn some of the things we learn and that there are ways to be safe,” he said. “We began at the start of the year and each (grade lesson) is different and age-appropriate.”

Second- and fourth-graders learn about kindness, handling their anger and dealing with dangers while fifth-grade lessons are designed to help those students know the difference between prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Norman noted that topics become more intensive for the upper grades and focus on responding to pressure and making safe and responsible choices under the theme “Keeping It Real.”

Norman said the goal is for students to retain the knowledge they’ve learned so they may stay on the right path, and it also helps form camaraderie between the youth and safety forces.

“You are on the kids’ level and they get positive interaction with law enforcement,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for at least 15 years and it helps build trust. Kids don’t know how to deal with stress and peer pressure and here they learn that every choice they make has a consequence.”

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