By Beth Pinyerd
Opelika Observer

D.A.R.E graduation was held for fifth grade students at Northside Intermediate School auditorium Dec.14 at 10 a.m.. The community and families were invited to attend this outstanding accomplishment. The red carpet was rolled out to honor the graduates!
D.A.R.E-Drug Abuse Resistance Education is an international substance abuse and gang prevention education program that seeks to educate and prevent addiction to drugs, alcohol, and to prevent children from joining gangs. The program involves students interacting with police officers and teachers in a classroom environment.
Officer Shayna Hodges, a 3.5-year veteran with the Opelika Police Department, is the School Resource Officer that serves at Northside Intermediate School.. She is in charge of the D.A.R.E program.
The D.A.R.E curriculum builds healthy development by having lessons on
• Self awareness and management
• Responsible decision making
• Understanding others
• Relationship and communication skills
• Handling responsibilities and challenges
Hodges stated that she has met with the teachers and students three times a week for 45 minutes where lectures, the D.A.R.E book, video lectures, and peer mentoring from OHS students have been done.
“D.A.R.E is here to support children to be kind, respectful, and no bullying,” Hodges said.
The D.A.R.E commencement was opened by 5th grade teacher teacher Mrs. Kirk. The National Anthem was sung by Officer Dwayne Fears.
The fifth grade students performed three D.A.R.E songs under the direction of Chad Turner, music teacher. The guest speaker was Savannah Karl an OHS graduate who encouraged the fifth grade students to make safe and responsible decisions.
Abbagail Henderson was chosen as the Good Citizen Recipient. Hodges stated the Good Citizen Recipient is a student who treats others with respect, they are kind and help others, they respect authority, and they respect their environment.
D.A.R.E Class Essay Representatives read their outstanding essays to the audience. Fifth grade teachers presented their students certificates of completion of the D.A.R.E. The graduates did the D.A.R.E chant.
Closings remarks and acknowledgments were done by Principal Poteet.