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Students finish DARE program

Nearly 500 hundred county sixth-grade students were laudedThursday at the Lincoln County Multi-Purpose Building for theirgraduation from the 2009 DARE program.

Lt. Byron Catchings, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s DepartmentDARE coordinator, said the 10-week course is designed to teachchildren about the pitfalls and dangers of violence, drug andalcohol abuse.

DARE, which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, wasstarted in 1983 in Los Angeles and became so successful it has beenincorporated in 75 percent of the nation’s school districts and in43 countries, said instructor Krysten Butler.

“This program is starting to really grow more here and I’mgetting parents, as well as the kids, involved in it,” Catchingssaid.

Parental involvement is an extremely valuable addition to theprogram because then the values that are taught at school are alsoreinforced at home, he said.

Sudie Palomarez, former DARE coordinator for the sheriff’sdepartment and a current Brookhaven police officer, was the keyspeaker for the graduation ceremony.

“I spent many years teaching DARE and I miss it today,” shesaid. “There was a time when I knew the name of every child in theDARE program, but I don’t know anyone today.”

To the delight of the students, Palomarez tried to rectify thatbe calling several students to the stage and telling them to grab afriend. She learned their names and a little about them.

The former DARE instructor presented an interactive programcovering a variety of topics while keeping students on stage.

Catchings ended the ceremony with the presentation of six essaywinners. A winner was chosen from each elementary school, withLipsey allowed two winners because of its size.

Winners of the essay contest included Trent Nettles ofBrookhaven Academy, Teri Lawson of West Lincoln, Addie Spring ofEnterprise, Lorraine Rohr of Loyd Star and Yasmine Walker andTykwan Bridges of Lipsey.

The ceremony was sponsored by McLane Southern, the 106th BrigadeSupport Battalion of the Mississippi Army National Guard and otherbusinesses.

Staff Sgt. Sid Boyte, the 106th’s recruitment and retentionnoncommissioned officer, said he was proud to be able to supportthe program.

“It’s a good program,” he said. “It directs the young peopletoward a positive future and that’s something we try to promote asoften as we can.”