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FRES students graduate DARE program

Students perform a song about making the right decisions during a DARE graduation ceremony at the Fort Rucker Elementary School gym where more than 50 students graduated from the program Nov. 19. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Students perform a song about making the right decisions during a DARE graduation ceremony at the Fort Rucker Elementary School gym where more than 50 students graduated from the program Nov. 19. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: November 28, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 28, 2014) -- Making choices in life is something everyone is faced with, and officials at Fort Rucker Elementary School want to help make sure students are prepared to make the right ones when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

Parents, teachers and some of Fort Rucker’s finest looked on as more than 50 fifth grade students graduated from the FRES Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program during a ceremony at the FRES school gym and received their certificates.

Students spent the past 10 weeks learning about drug and alcohol abuse, peer pressure and what to do if confronted with either, said Marcel Dumais, Fort Rucker civilian police chief, who was on hand during the ceremony to speak to the audience.

“I hope that you take what you’ve learned over the last 10 weeks and take it to heart,” he said to the graduates. “This is life-long learning and it starts here with this program.”

The need for the DARE program is necessary in order to make sure children are well educated about the facts of drugs and alcohol, said Dumais, because it’s that curiosity that can get children in trouble.

“We’ve seen that drug abuse continued to be a serious issue that causes society problems, and has affected the lives of our children and young adults,” said the police chief. “The DARE program that these students have just completed will hopefully continue to pay big dividends as they grow into their teens and adulthood. I hope the lessons they’ve learned will help them make the right decisions when confronted with the use of illegal drugs and alcohol abuse.”

Throughout the 10-week course, the students worked closely Spc. Susan Stone, Fort Rucker DARE officer, to learn the ever-important life lessons.

“It was my privilege and honor to teach these fifth grade students this year,” said Stone, who is enjoying her second year as the DARE officer. “Congratulations you guys, you did it and I’m proud of you. You all have your individual strengths and weaknesses, so help each other grow so that you can all grow together. All I did was give you the tools to help you express your thoughts, feelings and decisions. Lead by example and help each other out.”

Being a leader is an integral part of the DARE program, said Vicki Gilmer, FRES principal, which is a characteristic that she said FRES has worked hard to instill in its students.

“This year we’ve worked really hard not only education your child, but also have them become quite a leader,” she said to the parents during the ceremony. “We’ve been working the Leader In Me program, which has seven tenets for children to use to become successful individuals and one of those is being proactive.

“The DARE program really fits in well with that,” Gilmer continued. “This has really helped these children know what to do in case they are pressured, so they have immediate answers and an immediate response. I’m very proud of you … you guys learned a great deal, and I know that you took all of these lessons to heart and will use them throughout your life.”

Those lessons weren’t just for the children, however, but for the parents, as well.

Dumais said another important aspect of the DARE program is parent involvement and educating the parents, as well as the children about the facts about drugs and alcohol.

“Establish family rules that make the use of drugs and alcohol non-negotiable,” he advised to parents. “Get to know your children better through this program, and get to know your children’s friends and talk with other parents.

“This program better prepares parents to recognize the signs of drug and alcohol abuse so they can quickly step in when and if necessary,” said the police chief. “If a problem does arise, know that you’re not alone. If necessary, seek expert advice and counseling for assistance.”

With these lessons, Dumais said that parents and children should have the necessary tools needed to resist drugs and alcohol.

He then got a little help from a guest speaker on why these lessons are important to the success of the program. George Scott, Enterprise State Community College and special guest speaker, took time to talk with the students and offer them a valuable lesson on what it means to be successful.

Scott stressed to the children that everyone’s definition of success is different, and should be based on one’s own definition and no one else’s.

“No matter what your idea or definition of the word is, there are things you must do in order to be successful, and you guys have all taken a step in the right direction by completing the DARE program,” he said. “To be successful you must be responsible for your actions, you must prepare properly, you must work hard and you must persevere. Living a DARE life will help you be successful.”

This article was originally published at

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