D.A.R.E. to be different

Trent Ernst, Editor

On Friday, April 12, 56 students at Tumbler Ridge Elementary graduated from the first D.A.R.E. program to be held in this community for six years.

It was an auspicious occasion, and there were a number of dignitaries on-hand, including Mayor Darwin Wren, School District 59 District Principal Keith Maurer and RCMP North District Commander Rod Booth.

The D.A.R.E. program is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.

The program is international in scope, with millions of children each year learning the skills to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs and violence. D.A.R.E stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. It was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of American school districts and in more than 43 countries around the world.

Only police officers who have taken a special course can teach the D.A.R.E. program, and only a small percentage of officers take the program. It has been a number of years since Tumbler Ridge has had an officer qualified to teach the course, but recently Queen Jubilee medal award winner James Bos transferred to Tumbler Ridge. Constable Bos was present at the awards, of course, in his full dress serge.

Mayor Darwin Wren says it’s important to have someone like Bos here in Tumbler Ridge. “It’s about building a strong community, and it starts with our children,” says Wren.

At the start of the graduation ceremonies, the children present, which included most of the school, sang ‘O, Canada.’ North District Commander Booth said that it was the best experience he had all week. “It gave me goosebumps,” says Booth.

After a few introductory comments, and a hearty round of applause for Constable Bos, the grads were presented with a certificate and a tee-shirt. After the presentation, three of the grads read the essays that they had written for the course, and then everyone gathered for a group photo.