DARE graduates get lesson from top narcotics officer

Published 5:00 am Thursday, May 1, 2003

For Brookhaven Academy sixth grader Jameson Wright, a collegeeducation is now riding on his ability to keep up with a T-shirtfor the next six years.

The shirt, given as a gift to Mississippi Bureau of Narcoticsdirector Frank Melton during Lincoln County’s Drug Abuse ResistanceEducation (DARE) graduation ceremonies Wednesday, was passed on toWright for safe keeping until he graduates from high school. Meltonpromised to pick up the shirt at the student’s high schoolgraduation.

“He’s going to give me this T-shirt, and I’m going to give him ascholarship to any state college or university he wants to attend,”Melton said.

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Wright, the son of Jimmy and Julie Wright, was one of 655Lincoln County sixth graders to graduate from the 16-week DAREprogram. The boy was glad to be the one chosen to receive theeducational opportunity.

“It’s great,” Wright said.

Wright said he wanted to go to the University of SouthernMississippi, but he had not chosen any academic path yet.

“I want to be a baseball player,” Wright said.

While speaking with students earlier, Melton warned of thedangers of drugs and said there is a 100 percent chance thatstudents will be exposed to them at some point in their lives.

“In other words, it’s going to happen,” Melton said.

Melton said drugs, not terrorism, represented the biggest threatto the state and the country. He urged students not to start usingdrugs and not to experiment, even once.

“The toughest choice you will ever have to make is saying no todrugs and meaning it,” Melton said.

Discussing specific drugs, Melton said marijuana is a precursorto harder drugs like crack cocaine and methamphetamine. He calledmethamphetamine the most dangerous drug on the street.

“It destroys the human body,” Melton said. “It’s like putting agun to your head and pulling the trigger.”

If students get involved in drugs, Melton said there are twoways out: “a pair of handcuffs or a coffin.” He urged students toget immediate help if they do get involved with drugs.

“The only way we can effectively help you is on the front end,”Melton said.

Shifting his focus, Melton spoke about his and other adults’expectations of young people. He told male students to give theirearrings to their sisters. He also said he would not tolerate boyswearing their pants “halfway down your behind.”

Melton urged students to maintain a good appearance, behaveproperly and learn to “effectively articulate the English languagewith your heads up.” While challenging students to graduate andlater attend college or trade school, Melton told them toconcentrate on four areas of life: faith in God, faith in family,getting a quality education and volunteering to help others.

“You do those things, you’re on your way to being a successfulhuman being,” Melton said.

DARE graduates Wednesday also enjoyed a drug dog demonstrationfrom Lincoln County Narcotics Officer Chris Picou, and studentswere among the first to see the department’s new DARE vehicle. DAREOfficer Sudie Palomarez said the red and black Mustang wasconfiscated following a drug stop on Interstate 55 recently.

“This is what happens to people that are on drugs. They gettheir mighty fine cars taken away from them and given to peoplelike me,” Palomarez said.

Lincoln County Sheriff Lynn Boyte congratulated graduates andurged them to remember the lessons learned in the DARE classes. Hesaid they would help them now and later in life.

“You are the future of Lincoln County,” Boyte told students.