Pubdate: Mon, 21 May 2001
Source: Merritt Herald (CN BC)
Box 9  2090 Granite St., Merritt, B.C., V1K 1B8
Date: May 16, 2001
Contact:  Sarah Elizabeth Brown


There weren't any caps and gowns at this graduation, no long dresses
or tuxedoes. And graduating students shook hands with a cop and a big
bear mascot dressed like a Mountie.

Parents and teachers did the traditional thing last Wednesday - they
looked on proudly as 20 Bench elementary students graduated from their
17-week DARE (drug abuse resistance education) program.

Merritt RCMP Cpl. Sean Neary spent about an hour with the Bench Grade
6 class every Wednesday. He also taught 36 Grade 6 students at Diamond
Vale elementary how to say no to drugs and alcohol. The Diamond Vale
students will have their DARE grad on May 23. The following are
excerpts from essays students wrote about their DARE experience.


I know I will have contact with drugs and violence, but I have learned
ways to make appropriate choices. I want to stay drug free and enjoy
my life. I am a good person and I don't need drugs to enjoy my life.

A good thing I was taught was how people will try and talk me into
using drugs or drinking alcohol.

It was just as important to know how people would try to talk me into
things as it was about how to say no. If I hadn't learned these things
I could have been fooled and made bad choices.

Another important part of the DARE program was learning how to solve
problems without bullying or violence.

Things can happen where people will disagree and then start to argue
or fight. I have learned that it is never acceptable to bully or be

There are better ways to solve things. I could try and work things out
by talking and listening. If I couldn't work things out I should go to
an adult that can help.

Jerrid Kravontka

Grade 6, Bench Elementary


We learned that many people take drugs because they lack self-esteem.
Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves. Many things in our lives
can influence this. Our friends, families, classmates and teachers can
make us feel good or bad.

Cpl. Neary brought in a balloon to demonstrate how fast our
self-esteem can go up or shrink down. When someone compliments us, we
feel good and our self-esteem grows, but when someone insults us, or
says something mean, it shrinks and we don't feel good about ourselves.

It is important to feel good about yourself, because people who feel
good have a better chance of not taking drugs or smoking.

This program also taught us how to say "no" to drugs and alcohol.
Before our class started the DARE program, I was unsure of what to say
if someone asked me to smoke or take drugs.

Now I know, and I feel that I can say no in a confident, assertive
way. When the time comes for me to say no, I know that I will get my
message across.

DARE has helped me realize that I also have a responsibility to
others. I know that if I can help others feel good about themselves,
not only will I be making myself feel good, but I can influence their
decisions about whether to take drugs or not.

If we all tried to remember to compliment others, and show them how
important they are, then maybe our world will have less drugs and violence.

Kristin Kossinn

Grade 6, Bench Elementary


My favorite days were when Chris Claffey and two high school students
visited so we could ask questions. We had many questions for them to
answer. My question was, "How many people do you estimate take drugs
at MSS?" They told us they weren't sure but there were many.

Another day that comes to mind is the day Cpl. Neary brought pizza.
There was cheese, ham and pineapple, and pepperoni. That was a very
good day.

Another day that I remember is the day we had the DARE concert at the
Civic Centre. I felt very proud to wear my DARE shirt at the concert.
It felt good to look around and see so many other kids who were also
in the DARE program.

I choose not to take drugs because I'm a very athletic person and
taking drugs will ruin my chances to do my best. I also choose not to
take drugs because it could mean a shorter life or a life full of
problems. Drugs could change the way I think and feel about others and
myself. This is a chance I'm not willing to take. I also know taking
drugs would not please God.

Some people think that you need to take drugs or alcohol to have fun
but I know how to have fun without them. The kind of "fun" that drugs
help you have ends very quickly. Pretty soon those people aren't
having any fun at all. Their whole focus is on getting more drugs or

Next year at CMS I know that someone will most likely offer me drugs
or alcohol. Now that I have learned their effects I will make sure I
always say, "No!"

I really hope that more kids like me will be able to take the DARE
program. It should be taught at all of the elementary schools in Merritt.

It should even be at the middle school and the high school. Kids need
to know how to say "no" to drugs and to live lives free of drugs. This
is important at every age.

Jesse Clark

Grade 6, Bench Elementary
- ---
MAP posted-by: Andrew