The fifth-graders at Niagara-Wheatfield's Tuscarora Native American School recently accepted their D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) diplomas from members of the Lewiston Police Department and Town of Lewiston Supervisor Dennis Brochey. The 20 students went through an extensive 18-week training with Officer John Penzotti, Officer Scott Stafford and Chief of Police Christopher Salada. They discussed health and wellness and how to cope with peer pressure.
The national program was started in 1999 and is funded by donations. Its focus is on helping children make better decisions about drinking, drugs and smoking. Students wrote essays about making good choices. Penzotti said he was impressed with what the students had to say.
"Sometimes you wonder if you are getting through to the students, because we all have our good days and our bad days. When I brought home the essays and read them, I saw that they got it," he said. "Fifth-graders see so much more than we did at their age and it means a lot to us that they see the dangers and want to avoid them. This is a great school, and what I have learned from the students has helped me to be a better D.A.R.E. teacher."
Nina Hamby and Andre Clause were selected to represent the class by reading their essays to the audience. They received thunderous applause.
Principal Elizabeth Corieri said she is very grateful to the Lewiston Police Department and to school nurse Marilyn Schlehr for another year of the program.
"We have a wonderful relationship with the police officers who help our students with strategies to cope with various issues," Corieri said. "And we need to thank Ms. Schlehr for her expertise on the health and wellness portion of the program."