One hundred seventy three fifth graders at Northside Elementary School participated in a DARE graduation ceremony Monday.
The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program was conducted by DARE Officer Tim Hearn of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.
Each student prepares an essay during the course and those with the best essays from each class are recognized and awarded.
This year's essay winners at Northside were Kelsey Evans, Zachary Poss, Cody Hattaway, Ashley Hershman, Karem Bain, Devin Summers, and Kaylee Hale.
Each of those students read their essays during the DARE graduation program.
Judge Bratten Cook II presented checks for $50 each to two of the seven DARE essay winners, Karem Bain and Devin Summers, whose names were drawn for the special awards.
DARE Officer Tim Hearn, during his remarks, told the students that he has presented them a plan and hopes that they will apply it to their lives.
Completing his first year as a DARE officer, Hearn says he believes the program was very successful and feels like he has gained 173 new friends.
Sheriff Patrick Ray, who also spoke during the DARE graduation, told the students that \"D.A.R.E. is a cooperative effort by the DeKalb Sheriff?s Department, DeKalb County School System, parents, and the community?all of us working together to help you make the right choices concerning drug use. I ask you today students, to take this valuable information and apply it to your lives, now and forever.\"
With the help of the DeKalb County Mayor, Mike Foster, and the DeKalb County Commission, money from the Sheriff's Department drug fund account was used to fund this year's DARE Program at Northside Elementary School and DeKalb West School, after the state cut funding for DARE.
Other elected public officials on hand for the DARE graduation program, in addition to Sheriff Ray and Judge Cook, were Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, and Trustee Sean Driver.