D.A.R.E. students graduate in Williams

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Colusa County Sheriff’s School Resource Officer Leanne Knudsen dared 120 Williams Upper Elementary students to live safe, responsible and drug-free lives – and she gave them to tools to do it.

Knudsen, the local Drug Abuse Resistance Education, presented certificates to Williams students on Thursday to mark their completion of the popular program, which is implemented in 75 percent of the nation’s school districts, and in more than 43 countries.

D.A.R.E. is a collaborative program between law enforcement and the schools, which work together to educate students about the personal and social consequences of substance abuse and violence.

“The D.A.R.E program gives the students facts and current information about the harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol and other harmful drugs,” Knudsen said.

Abril Loza, a fifth grader in Sandro Magana’s class, said the D.A.R.E. curriculum taught her to make safe and responsible choices, and bolstered her confidence to resist peer pressure and other negative influences in her daily life.

“I won’t let someone pressure me to take drugs,” Loza said.

One of the requirements of the program is completing a report using the information from the lessons, and writing an essay in their own words how D.A.R.E. would benefit their lives.

Loza, along with fellow fifth graders Emily Mendez Zamora from Ana Lopez’s class; Isabella Santillan from Krystal Dutra’s class; and Alexis Velazquez from David Lee’s class, were chosen to read their essays during Thursday’s graduation ceremony.

Santillan said D.A.R.E.’s “Decision Making Model,” helps students apply what they learned to real life situations as they face a broad range of risks.

“D.A.R.E. taught us ways to lead successful lives,” she said.

Knudsen said the D.A.R.E. program particulary aims to establish positive relationship between students, law enforcement, teachers, parents, and community leaders.

Colusa County Sheriff Joe Garofalo, Williams Police Chief Randy Ulibarri, Colusa County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Neil Pearson, Sheriff’s Volunteer Unit, and Williams Police Officer Daniel Mata, along with a number of parents and community members attended the ceremony.

Garofalo and Ulibarri assisted Knudsen as she handed out certificates of completion to the Williams fifth graders.