Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

May 3, 2014

DARE to be strong

Students get a good kickstart from program

GLASGOW — One of the first things Barren County sixth-graders did Friday morning at Jackie Browning Park was check the bracket to see which classes played each other in the annual DARE kickball tournament.

The tournament is a reward for students who complete the 10-week DARE program.

Dustin Rupe, a student in Ryan Houchens’ class at Red Cross Elementary School, was hoping Houchens’ class would repeat as tournament champs and keep the traveling trophy that is awarded to winning classes.

According to Rupe, the class’ strategy for the tournament this year was to “try to run the bases to get good plays and try not to get any outs.”

While the students were excited about the tournament, it was not the most important thing about the day. What was important is what they learned in the DARE program.

“We learned about alcohol and drugs and what they do to your body and stuff like that,” Rupe said.

One of the things that surprised him was the way tobacco can affect the body, he said.

His classmate, Marlie Shirley, said she learned that cigarettes are bad and that nicotine is what makes cigarettes addictive.

But that’s not all she learned.

“If you drink alcohol and drive, you get into really, really bad trouble,” she said.

The DARE program has been available in Barren County Schools for more than 20 years and is taught by Barren County Deputy Sheriff Ken Thomas.

While DARE was once thought of as strictly a drug prevention program, Thomas said it has grown to be more than that.

Aside from talking to students about drugs and the effects they have physically and socially, he also covers other topics such as how to be assertive, developing high self-esteem and how to make good decisions.

“It’s a whole building process over 10 weeks to come up with an ending message,” he said.

The DARE program is available to sixth- and eighth-graders in the school system.

“The sixth grade is pretty much the foundation for why drugs are bad for you and how to make those right decisions and where does peer pressure come from and a lot of issues like that,” Thomas said, “where in the eighth grade, we try to re-emphasize those things and add a little bit more.”

The kickball tournament, however, was for sixth-graders only.

“It’s something for the kids to look forward to and it’s something for the kids to be proud of,” Thomas said. “Sometimes, if kids have kind of gotten off track during the school year, sometimes they are not allowed to come, so this is good motivation for them to stay on straight so they can have this field day also.”

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