BROWNSTOWN

A Brownstown fifth-grader already has found multiple ways to apply some of the D.A.R.E. decision-making skills she has learned since school began in August.

“I have used the D.A.R.E. decision-making model on the bus, playing with my sisters and outside at recess,” Camryn Thompson said as she read her D.A.R.E. essay Thursday night.

Thompson was one of 113 Brownstown Elementary School fifth graders — and one of four essay winners — that took part in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education graduation program in the auditorium at Brownstown Central High School.

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The program, which has been in place for 23 years, teaches fifth-graders how to say no to drugs, alcohol and tobacco and prevent bullying.

Brownstown Officer Tom Wright, who also is the school corporation’s resource officer, presented the 10-week program.

“The first part deals with alcohol, tobacco and drugs — legal and illegal — which targets abusing them,” he said. “Then it focuses on decision-making skills that can be used in any situation, drug usage, work and life in general.”

Wright said he talked to the students about how he used the decision-making model when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“This year, I explained to them how I used the skills to decide what to do when faced with prostate cancer,” he said.

Wright said the program is important for the students because it can help make a difference in many ways, including reducing crime.

“If we can get the students to learn to use good, safe decision-making skills, we can reduce drug usage and/or crime in general,” he said.

Wright said he also views his role as a police officer as an opportunity to set a good example for the students.

“We (officers) are also role models, and the students will see us out in the community helping others both while on duty and off, volunteering our time with local service organizations, which I hope will inspire them to help others,” he said.

About 20 Brownstown Central High School students served as D.A.R.E. role models to help serve as an example to younger students, Wright said.

Wright said he enjoyed reading through the essays and appreciates when he sees the students absorbing the lessons.

“Everyone has a little different perspective on what they learned, and sometimes, you have that special essay that makes you say, ‘Wow! they really got the message and learned something,’” he said.

For Camryn, the lesson sure has sunk in.

“D.A.R.E. has been a great experience, and I had lots of fun learning smart, safe and responsible choice for the future,” she said.

Other essay winners were Trista Ulrey, Colin Kell and Carlee Walker.

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Jordan Richart is a correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.