North Clay celebrates DARE Graduation

Nearly 50 fifth graders marched into the North Clay Elementary School Gymnasium Thursday afternoon to take part in the DARE Graduation ceremony and receive their certificates showing they have completed the 10-week program.
Clay County Sheriff Andy Myers stated this was the 10th year he had taught the program and noted the program focuses on students pledging to stay off drugs and alcohol while not bending to personal and peer pressure. He noted they rely on decision making modules when making those key decisions in their lives. This is the 13th year the program has been taught in Clay County.
"It's enjoyable coming here to teach DARE. This is by far the most enjoyable thing I get to do in my job," Sheriff Myers stated.
Sheriff Myers noted students he taught 10 years ago would now be sophomores in college by now. And he indicated he was a student in the DARE program at North Clay when Sheriff Lee Ryker taught the program the second year of its existence.
"DARE is something I feel very strongly about," Sheriff Myers stated.
Not only do the students hear the importance of staying away from alcohol and drugs, they also get to experience the negative side-effects and impairments by wearing fatal vision goggles.
And although teaching the importance of staying away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco products is the primary focus of the DARE Program, the program has also been focusing on bullying the last couple of years.
Landis Rinehart and Beth Billingsley recited a Pledge Against Bullying for the audience.
He awarded Darrin the Lion, the mascot of the DARE Program to Brooke Kincaid and Caitlyn Arnold, this year's DARE Poster award winners. He said students were to create a poster explaining the DARE Program to someone who had never before heard of the program. He stated these two students were able to do that through their drawing.
Principal Penny Arnold then gave her Principal's Message to the students.
"DARE is a very important program," she began.
And she advised the students to do three things:
"Listen to the adults in your life," she noted. "You'll have an easier life if you listen to them when they are telling you these things."
"Number two, choose your friends wisely," Ms. Arnold related.
And the third thing she advised the students to do, was "think before you act."
She then advised those parents and grand parents in the audience to spend quality time with their kids and to communicate what they expect from them. She also advised them to set rules and to lead by example.
A member of the Oddfellows Lodge, Kenny Willison was introduced to the audience and the students. The Oddfellows have been donating the t-shirts to the DARE Program since 1987, when the program was taught in Clay County for the first time.
"I appreciate everything Kenny and the Oddfellows does," Sheriff Myers acknowledged.
He also thanked the North Clay teachers and administrators for allowing him to come into the schools and teach the DARE Program.
The Pledge of Allegiance was lead by Austin Jenkins and Austin Reid.