MT. VERNON — Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of stories publishing the DARE essays which were judged as the best for each of the Jefferson County schools which participate in the program.
Each year, school children throughout the county are taught Drug Abuse Resistance Education by Sheriff’s Deputy Joey Porter. One of the final class assignments is to write an essay about what they learned during the classes.
The Register-News re-prints the essays Porter and his judges choose as the top essays written for each of the county grade schools, culminating with the top winner, which will be published on DARE graduation day for county school children — May 11.
Cassandra Cooper of Ina Grade School was chosen as the author of the best essay in her class.
“I learned in DARE that tobacco can cause throat and lung cancer. You can harm people around you with second hand smoke. Teenagers who smoke are less likely to do well in school. It also affects your growth. Marijuana also causes cancer. If you smoke marijuana you have a higher risk of getting cancer. It causes many other health problems. Marijuana is illegal in the United States. If you are caught with marijuana you could go to jail no matter how big the amount is. Alcohol does not just cause health problems. People who are drinking can become very violent. They do things they wouldn’t do if they were sober. The most important thing I learned in DARE is to stay away from drugs and people who use them.
“The impact DARE had on me is huge. If we didn’t have DARE I wouldn’t have known some of the things I know now. After DARE ended, I asked my parents if they had any more advice for me here are some of the things they said. My mom told me she a woman’s son was killed by a drunk driver. Drugs and alcohol have ruined my family. All my sisters smoke and drink the youngest is only 16. My sister, Amber got a DUI with my nieces in the back. DARE helped me learn to talk to her about all the harm she is doing. Since I talked to her she is drinking less. DARE has helped my family a lot. I just wanted to say thank you so much.
“I learned a lot of things in DARE I told you a lot in the first paragraph, but I have some more to say. One thing I didn’t mention is we learned about inhalants. That can kill you the first time you use it. Tobacco kills 400,000 people a year. Marijuana smoke has tar in it which sticks to your lungs. The most important thing is to stay away from people who are using drugs or drinking alcohol.
“I, Cassandra Cooper, promise never to use drugs or alcohol. I think that violence can cause a lot of problems that’s why I promise to stay violence free. I will stay away from people who fight or do things they are not supposed to. I also think that if you know what to do in a situation that can help to.”
Tyler Hill of McClellan Grade School wrote the top essay for his DARE class.
“I have enjoyed this year’s DARE program so much!
“Officer Porter has taught us a lot and made the class interesting. We’ve learned about making healthy and wise decisions. Life is about choices, we need to make the right choices and have a good and safe life. Officer Porter has taught us some things that will help us to make good choices. It helps to know the facts about dangerous things we may have to deal with, like smoking, drinking and who we can trust. We’ve done assignments and role playing and competitions in his class to help us understand these situations we may be faced with. He is a great role model. I’ve loved everything about our DARE program this year. One of my favorite lessons was the time he brought in goggles that made us feel like it would feel if we drank too much and tried to drive. The lesson taught us how dangerous this could be.
“I wish our world could be drug free with no violence or mean people in it. If more and more kids get to be in the DARE program, maybe this will help. Thanks Officer Porter for your time and for teaching us how to live safe and make wise choices.”
Opdyke Grade School student Ashtyn Dye was the top essay author in her class.
“In my DARE class experience with Joey Porter I have learned that if you do drugs or smoke, it can kill you like it did my grandma. This experience has made a major impression effect on my life so that I will not use drugs because of the health issues I could get myself into. I could not do well in sports or I might even stop growing. Here’s one of the most awesome but scary facts of it all of DARE, 3,000 nonsmokers die of lung cancer each year! This is very horrible! If you know a smoker, try not hang around the smoke because even second hand smoke can be dangerous to you. DARE stands for drug abuse resistance education or define, assess, respond, evaluate.
“I also learned that many bad choices could not only harm one person, but it could harm another person as well. An example is when my grandma died of emphysema last year. She made the wrong decision of smoking when she was younger and then was put on oxygen. She still chose to smoke, soon was bedridden and died shortly after that. That made the whole family sad because she’s the one who always cheers us up when we’re upset. That is why I never ever or even think about doing drugs.
“In case you didn’t know, even your best friend or even your family members could be doing drugs when you least expect it. For example, like when someone I know got a DUI and their truck got stuck on a railroad track and his truck was hit by a train. It was a good thing he was not in it. He even had his license taken away and had to retake driving school. That really surprised me to hear about that! That is an example of what I was telling you earlier about even your best friend or family could be doing drugs when you least expect it like the person that I know that got the DUI.
“Have you ever seen your parents drinking? That’s probably because they are trying to get something off their minds or juts for the fun of it. That’s something that Officer Porter has taught us about and he has taught us very well about everything that’s out there and why people use it. I am very appreciative of that.
“Over time I have learned that tobacco, alcohol and marijuana effects your brain, mouth, throat, lungs, heart and your liver. Even though you might not feel it you could have problems and the more you smoke the more you are most likely to start feeling it. I have experienced that with the experiences with my grandma and the person I know that drank and got the DUI. My grandma lost her life and the friend is lucky he only lost his truck and got a DUI. My grandma kept smoking until it was too late and the friend did not stop drinking even after all he went through. My grandma did not know that she had problems until it got really bad. That almost killed me inside to hear that she died. That has taught me a valuable lesson because now I know that if you start to drink or smoke it is hard to stop. Some of the other things I have learned is that it is not easy to say no to a friend because you are used to them doing the right thing. All in all, I have learned a lot of skills that Officer Porter has taught us. He is a very excellent DARE teacher!
“Now, as an educated DARE student and proud of it, I give you my pledge. I, Ashtyn Dye, pledge to stay away from drugs, which include alcohol, tobacco, fumes, and even marijuana and hopefully it lasts for the rest of my life even when I am in a risky situation. I just want and need to thank Officer Porter for teaching us about what to do and what not to do about drugs. So, thank you so much, we all appreciate it!”