The war on drugs may not be over yet, but the city of Orem is winning some significant battles.
The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program graduated its second class of Orem sixth-graders this past week as the students "took a stand" and committed not to use drugs."It's wonderful to be part of a program that makes a difference," said Pat Dark, member of Northridge Elementary School's PTA, who is helping to organize the program for other schools.
DARE is a 17-week course, during which officers from Orem's Public Safety Department visit classrooms for one hour a week.
Gary Downey is assigned to the DARE program full-time. He said the course teaches more than just drug prevention."The kids also learn about the consequences of taking risks, how to choose a support group and how to deal with stress," Downey said.
"It's a lot harder than being just a patrolman," he said, because he was never trained in teaching. But it is much more rewarding, too. "You get to see the results of your work," he said.
Dark said Downey's work, as well as the work of Gary Guyman and Jay Fletcher, officers assigned part-time to the program, does not end in the classroom.
"I have seen them play four-square and soccer with the kids," Dark said. Youngsters are learning how to trust the policemen.
In her short speech to the approximately 100 graduates at Suncrest Elementary, Dark said this relationship of trust should continue for many years.
"Even though you won't be in the DARE program anymore, you will always be DARE students," she said. "Take your support groups with you; you can always turn to a member of the Orem Department of Public Safety."
Students at Northridge, Orem, Scera Park, Suncrest and Westmore elementary schools graduated this week, and next week the officers will move the DARE program into five different elementary schools.
To give the students role models to follow, Dark said Orem Mayor S. Blaine Willes; Ted Peacock, director of public safety; Jay Barker, assistant director of public safety; and members of the BYU football team attended different graduation sessions.
"It is not inexpensive, but the city believes in the program," Dark said.