Pubdate: Sat, 20 Dec 2003
Source: Morganton News Herald, The (NC)
Copyright: 2003, Media General Inc.
Author: Kerri L. McFalls
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


RUTHERFORD COLLEGE -- Lauren Wallrichs pledged Friday morning to never use 

And while reading an essay she wrote about the dangers of drugs, Wallrichs 
stood in front of the crowded pews of Abernethy Memorial United Methodist 
Church and said, "I pledge now to never take drugs no matter what kind of 
peer pressure I may have."

Wallrichs made her public address at her school's fifth-grade D.A.R.E 

On Friday morning, students from two fifth-grade classes at Rutherford 
College Elementary School were honored by their parents, teachers, fellow 
students and law enforcement for their participation and graduation from 
the drug awareness program.

Sgt. Bill Lyle of the Burke County Sheriff's Office, and the school's 
D.A.R.E. officer, worked with the students for the past 10 weeks, talking 
to them about peer pressure, saying no to drugs and decision making.

The students listened closely Friday morning, nodding their heads as Lyle 
spoke to them about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and how to make the right 

"You've got decisions to make in your own life," Lyle told the students. 
"You can make good decisions. You should be proud of yourselves because you 
are D.A.R.E. graduates."

At one point during the 10-week course, the students must write a D.A.R.E. 
essay, Lyle said. At the graduation ceremony, three selected students 
NEWallrichs, along with Tony Avil-Lopez and Joshua Evans N read their essays.

The essays had to be at least three paragraphs long, Lyle said, with each 
paragraph containing at least five sentences.

"I feel this program really helped me to learn about drug abuse," Evans 
said. "If you do marijuana, you better stop."

Avil-Lopez said, "People who smoke are ruining their lives forever. It 
causes problems to the human body. It can cause heart disease, lung cancer 
and respiratory problems."

Afterward, each class stood and lined up in a single-file line. Some 
parents stood with their children and walked behind them to shake the hands 
of the police officers and educators when the students' names were called 
to receive their certificate.

"This is a really good program," said Leslie Corley, graduate Caleb 
Corley's mom. "They learn so much. It helps them learn about peer pressure 
and how to make decisions. It also helps them make that connection that the 
police are here to support them and be their friend."
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