Fri, Jun 29th 2012 07:20 pm
D.A.R.E. essay contest winners Christopher Belter and Ellen Diez display their award certificates with Lewiston Police officers John Penzotti and Scott Stafford and LPD Chief Chris Salada.
by Kristen M. deGuehery
Lewiston Police Department Officer Scott Stafford opened the D.A.R.E. graduation ceremonies at Stella Niagara Education Park by stating that he was "blown away by what the essay writers came up with." Each year, the SNEP fifth-grade class participates in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. Stafford has been the instructing officer at Stella Niagara for 12 years. Graduation was held on June 15 in the school auditorium.
"The essay wraps up what the students have learned throughout the whole semester," Stafford said.
Essay contest winners Christopher Belter and Ellen Diez read their compositions to the audience. Both students highlighted the dangers of abusing illegal drugs and alcohol.
Also attending the ceremony was DARE officer John Penzotti, LPD Chief Chris Salada, Town of Lewiston councilman and Stella Niagara alumnus Michael Marra, and Supervisor Steve Reiter.
"Review your D.A.R.E. toolbox," Salada encouraged the students. "It will help when you are confronted by peer pressure to take illegal drugs."
Stafford concluded the ceremony by saying, "Lewiston has the biggest 'gang' in Niagara County, our own army of drug fighters," referring to the number of students who have successfully completed the D.A.R.E. program. While other local communities have had to discontinue D.A.R.E., the LPD continues its commitment to the program.
Categories: ~ School ~ School feature ~ Sentinel ~
Pueblo County Deputy John Christie and D.A.R.E. Essay Winner Daniela Vasquez
A Liberty Point Elementary School student was the second place finisher in this year’s District 70 D.A.R.E. essay contest, making her teachers and school very proud of her accomplishments.
Daniela Vasquez was recognized at a school assembly for having the second best essay in the competition among nearly 650 fifth graders in Pueblo School District 70.
Through the D.A.R.E. curriculum, taught by Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office deputies, students learn about the importance of steering clear of drugs and alcohol, reporting suspicious activity and bullying to adults and about things like peer pressure.
The hope is to help children develop good lifelong habits that they can carry with them into middle school and beyond.
Liberty Point Elementary School fifth grade teacher Tracee Easton said students are instructed to write an essay but given some free reign on what’s included.
“This year he (Deputy John Christie who taught Liberty Point Elementary School students) said he just wanted to read about what they learned, and how D.A.R.E. affected them,” she said.
Vasquez’s essay included the three things she said were most useful to her – bullying, the D.A.R.E. decision model and tobacco products.
“I think Deputy Christie is really nice and does just a really nice job,” she said. “He taught us a lot like how bad drugs are for us and how important it is to cherish friendships.”
Although the winner of the essay contest was announced at the District-wide D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony, runners up were not mentioned, so Vasquez didn’t know about her accomplishment until Christie congratulated her at the school assembly.
“I was really surprised. I’ve never won such a big award before,” she said.