Graduates just say no to drugs

Weeks of anti-drug and alcohol education for area sixth-graders culminated with a flourish Thursday at Craig Middle School as an entertainer treated students to a comedy act and motivational speech.

Students -- some of whom were accompanied by their parents and families -- celebrated their 10 weeks of D.A.R.E training by displaying T-shirts specially made for the event and laughing out loud at the antics of the program's anti-drug entertainer, Retro Bill, during a gra-d-uation ceremony.

About 165 sixth-grade students graduated from the Drug Abuse Resistance Edu-cation that is offered to students for one class period a week.

"I learned lots of things," said sixth-grader Marcus Warne. "There are many poisonous things in a cigarette. Drinking (alcohol) can affect you, too."

Warne said the training taught him how to refuse drugs and alcohol if they were offered to him. To effectively turn down such an offer, Warne said he would tell the person "no" by looking straight into his or her eyes.

"Then I would see if they wanted to go for a soda," he continued.

Sixth-grader Abijah Staple-ton said he learned that there are more than 200 poisons in tobacco.

He also learned that a glass of wine or beer could contain a similar amount of alcohol. The classes also caused the student to question the widespread advertising for drugs and alcohol, he said.

D.A.R.E administrator, Craig Police Officer Carolyn Wade, said the anti-drug and alcohol messages seem to stick with the students.

Officer Jesse McAvoy and Moffat County Sheriff's Dep-uty Liz Campbell also helped teach the classes.

Maria Sandoval, a parent, said that she thought the experience was good for her son.

She said the program showed her son, Jaime, how to say no to drugs and alcohol and how to handle peer pressure.

"I don't worry too much about him, but I always tell him never to accept drugs from others, even if it's a small amount," she said.

Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said the program helps build relationships between youths and police. It's difficult to determine how well the program works, he said, because the Police Department doesn't track the number of youths who refuse to use alcohol and drugs.

"It builds general self esteem and life-making skills as it relates to drugs," he said.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craig-dailypress.com

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