The D.A.R.E. program has been a part of Colusa County for 30 years. This year’s D.A.R.E. graduation at Arbuckle Elementary recognized 117 fifth graders on May 29.
Youths transitioning between elementary and junior high were given an education on healthy lifestyle choices, which is the hallmark of the D.A.R.E. program.
D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 by the Los Angeles Police Department and is a collaboration between school staff and law enforcement to educate youth about the issues that students face.
In 2014, D.A.R.E. started incorporating topics with the intent of giving students tools to make good decisions. Substance abuse, social media, bullying, and violence are some of the topics that have been met head on.
Deputy Leanne Knutson invited officials in the community that are active supporters of Colusa County children to the graduation. Of those invited, 15 were able to attend Wednesday’s graduation, including Sheriff Joe Garaffalo, Colusa County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Ufkes Olivera, Superintendent of Colusa County Schools Michael West, PJUSD Superintendent Carol Geyer, and Colusa County Supervisor Merced Corona.
Corona, a retired Sheriff’s seargeant, brought D.A.R.E. to Arbuckle students in 1989.
From the many essays submitted by the students, four were chosen to be read aloud at the ceremony. In Shelly Langlois’ fifth grade class, Fatima Barrera had reflected on her future choices that she will make. From Laura Hanson’s class, Miguel Hernandez shared what was important to him that he learned from Knutson. From Samantha Vann’s class, Quinn Stephens reflected on the social and physical consequences from drugs and tobacco. From Debbie Scott’s class, Alaa Alashmali extolled the virtues of the D.A.R.E. program. AES cafeteria staff baked over a hundred cupcakes for the ceremony, which were served by Colusa County Sheriff’s Office volunteeres, who also support the program monetarily.
Knutson, who has been a D.A.R.E. officer since 2013, claims that she tries to keep her D.A.R.E. curriculum relevant to what students want to know, and gives them information that they are ready to explore.
After certificates were handed out, Knutson invited students to continue to seek out law enforcement officers as a resource in times of need.
“Remember, when you do cross the street and go to Johnson Jr. High, Deputy Trent Beck and I will still be there. If you have any problems, remember, that’s what we’re there for.” ■