Pubdate: Wed, 08 Feb 2006
Source: Tahoe World (Tahoe City, CA)
Copyright: 2006 Tahoe World
Author: Kara Fox
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


Kings Beach Elementary fifth graders and their parents gathered in 
the school gym last Friday for fun and cake to celebrate their 
graduation from the 10-week drug abuse prevention program known as D.A.R.E.

"It was really fun and amazing. I learned a lot," said 10-year-old 
Olivia Duner, a first place D.A.R.E. essay winner. "Our parents tell 
us not to do drugs, but they don't say why. [In D.A.R.E.] we actually 
got to learn why not to do drugs."

Indeed, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is designed to 
teach kids about the effects of drugs and alcohol, the consequences 
of abuse and the skills for resisting peer pressure to experiment 
with drugs, alcohol and tobacco. D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 in Los 
Angeles and is now taught in more than 75 percent of the nation's 
school districts, according to the program's Web site.

Tahoe D.A.R.E. Officer Stephanie Novick, who just completed teaching 
her first classes after taking over the program from Russ Potts, said 
she focuses on the effects of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and 
inhalants with the fifth graders.

"My job as a D.A.R.E. officer is to give them the ammo to make the 
right decisions," Novick, a Placer County Sheriff's deputy, said. "It 
is more than a drug or alcohol class. You have to teach them about 
violence and peer pressure."

Novick, who had to take a two week class in Beverly Hills to teach 
D.A.R.E., said she tries to make the class fun and interactive for 
the students. She uses facts, statistics and graphs to make her 
points, like that alcohol can cause bad breath, cigarettes contain 
200 poisons and marijuana causes short term memory loss. Novick then 
teaches the fifth graders how to apply the facts into every day life 
and how to say no.

It was obvious at Friday's D.A.R.E. graduation that the kids are getting it.

"Learning to say 'no' is the most important thing," 10-year-old 
Lauren McLaughlan noted after the ceremony.

Her friend, Maddie Johnson, 10, said she was glad she was taught how 
to deal with peer pressure.

To reinforce the message of drug prevention, Novick brought in two 
young speakers to talk to the classes during the graduation. Novick's 
own son, 14-year-old Michael Novick who attends Alder Creek Middle 
School in Truckee, read a poem by a Meth addict and reiterated the 
importance of staying off drugs. Jake McDermott, an 18-year-old North 
Tahoe High School senior, told of his quest to keep away from drugs 
and alcohol.

"I was like all of you. I went to school here. I went through what 
all of you did. Once you get to high school, it is a lot different," 
McDermott, a cross country runner, said. "Hanging out with kids who 
don't do drugs - you can't go wrong. ...I have these medals because I 
found something I love. You can't afford to lose your life to a pill 
or a drink."

Novick knows she may not be able to keep every child off drugs and 
alcohol, but she thinks D.A.R.E. helps reach children that may not 
otherwise hear the message about staying off drugs.

"You never know who you are going to touch," she said. "It's a great 
program. I've built a bridge and friendship between the sheriff's 
department and the schools."

A D.A.R.E. BBQ and golf tournament will be held May 7 at the Old 
Brockway Golf Course in Kings Beach. The cost is $200 for a team of 
four. There will be awards and a raffle. Contact Stephanie Novick at 
(530) 581-6300 to participate.
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