D.A.R.E. is a worldwide organization that focuses on life skills for the youth around the world. The program was founded in 1983, at Los Angeles, Calif. The Kennett D.A.R.E., program is directed by Kennett Police Officer, Mark Blankenship.
Officer Blankenship took on the program in 2000, after the program began in the mid-1990's with Barry Tate teaching it to the local elementary students. Following Tate's departure from the program, Officer Joe Stewart ran the program for a period, leading to Officer Blankenship taking over.
According to Officer Blankenship, he does not lecture the students about the life skills that D.A.R.E. teaches. Instead, he speaks to the children and makes it more of a discussion. He spoke of the students asking questions and sharing their feelings, as Officer Blankenship teaches the hourly lessons each week.
The 10 week program teaches students through a workbook -- that students must complete to graduate the program -- as well as spoken lessons. He says that reaching one student with the lessons is a "mission accomplished."
In the program, Officer Blankenship taught the students about substance abuse, with drugs such as cigarettes, alcohol, prescription drugs, and marijuana. He said that he teaches the students how to deal with peer pressure and how to cope with stress, without turning to a substance that alters the way one feels, thinks or acts.
Over the past 13 years, Officer Blankenship has taught the course and says that he has been supported by the faculty at South School.
"I made a lot of new friends this year," said Blankenship. He asks for parents, guardians, and relatives to get involved in the children's lives and to keep them safe.
Every year Officer Blankenship brings "Daren," a stuffed lion that acts as the D.A.R.E. Program's mascot. Every class that Officer Blankenship visits, he picks one or two students to hold Daren during the hour that he is teaching the class. At the graduation ceremony, he has a name of one of the graduates drawn and that student gets to take Daren home with them.
He says that he teaches the children that he is responsible to respect them and they are responsible to respect him.
The graduation ceremony began at approximately 12:30 p.m., with an introduction by the South Elementary School Principal, Kim Morgan, introducing the Officer Blankenship.
The D.A.R.E. graduation consisted of a talent show that displayed what students had learned from the program, as everything had a "drug-free theme." The performances included:
* Marshal Brown, Jared Roberts, Seth Tice, Jack McHaney, Joquan Williams, Quav'Ann Harrell, Jake Brooks, Bryce Daugherty, Jack Dalton, Hayden Faulkner and Marsayv'Aun Harrell performing, "5th Grade D.A.R.E Dogs."
* Destiny Ligons, Elizabeth Brennan and Jessica Vidovich performing, "There's No Joking Around With Drugs."
* Olivia Bolton, Lauren Woods, Shelby Pitts and Kaleb Crafton performing, "Drug Free Girls."
* Mrs. Rogers' Class performed, "Beat It," -- a rendition of Michael Jackson's hit song of the same name -- with a drug free theme. Kathy Rogers' students include; Jaquille Carter, Carolyn Goodrich, McKenzie Scherer, Wynter Clanton, Derrika Hollywood, Joe Williams, Willie Gooch, and Dakota Peeler.
* Tori Ray and Deondre Ray performing a skit entitled, "Drug Free Warriors."
* Taron Smith reading the poem, "What Drugs Do to You."
* Matthew Eguia, Laquaries Jones, Le'Andre Mitchell, Cameron Crowley, Dallas Campbell and Katelyn Dameron performing the song "Drug-Free Style."
* Eliza Raspberry and Maddy Nigut singing "On the Outside Looking In."
* Morgan Canter performing "Drug Free."
* Marissa Treat, Alysa Davis, Taylor Hufford and JaLisha Lindsey performing "No More Drugs."
* Lottie Hoffman singing "Down."
* Emma McCormick and Abby Furby singing "Die Young."
* Dallas Campbell performing "We're Drug Free."
* Daisy Hernandez, who sang "Who Says."
The students then were called to the stage individually to accept their certificates of graduating the D.A.R.E Program successfully.
The names of the students include:
* In Carrie Blue's class: Olivia Bolton, Bryce Daugherty, Destany Graves, Jordan Hudson, JaLisha Lindsey, Lamar Northern, Destyni Rodgers, Marissa Treat, Jake Brooks, Alysa Davis, Damien Hilburn, Taylor Hufford, Gary Mixon, Christian Perkins, Camille Thomas, Morgan Canter, Caitlin Farrar, Moriah Hollywood, Austin Lee, Mallory Morrow, Dawson Rickman, and River Tillman.
* In David Bradshaw's class; Jazmine Devaughn, Mason Gattis, Jonathan Jain, Emma McCormick, Alyssa Seals, Lorenzo Thomas, Cassidy Winberry, Juan Felix, Elizabeth Haywood, Takwaja Lewis, Kobe Patterson, Viviana Segovia, Chris Welton, Lauren Woods, Dashawn Franks, Lotti Hoffman, Dale Marquez, Ethan Rudd, Seth Tanner, and Cameron Whitehead.
* In Stacy Carter's class; Krystyn Anderson, Jerica Breedlove, Tamra Edwards, Daisy Hernandez, Jack McHaney, Kaitlyn Nelson, Tori Ray, Savannah Williams, Bobby Blair, Gavin Butler, Quav'Aun Harrell, Zion Jennings, Francisco Mendoza, Deondre Ray, Joquan Williams, Easton Bradshaw, Olivia Daniels, Nathan Heinen, Evelin Marinez-Tovar, Amber Miller, Jacob Ray, and Marissa Williams.
* In Christy Daugherty's class; Ty'Nekia Alford, Karson Cunningham, Jaron Godair, Tyus Johnson, James McClanahan, Antonia Randle, Heather Stacy, Hayden Turner, Nikia Boyd, Justin Davis, Ronaldo Guerrero, Margaret Lemons, Marsiah Nelson, Brandon Smith, Kagan Teal, Edna Brown, Garrett Doherty, Ry'Treveon Ingram, Jocelynn McCain, Shelby O'Connor, Keagan Smith and Kalebb Tuck.
* In Amy Davis's class; Christian Barton, Kaitlyn Cooley, Hayden Faulkner, Devontaye Johnson, Destiny Ligons, Mikey Richmond, Jessica Vidovich, Anton Blackmon, Kaleb Crafton, Jalisa Flagg, Desirae Lawrence, Chelsea Mitchell, Erin Robinson, Jaxson Warren, Elisabeth Brennan, Jack Dalton, Marsayv'Aun Harrell, Marisa Liddell, Shelby Pitts, and Talia Stewart.
* In Heather McHaney's class; Carson Blansett, James Clark, Abby Furby, Janesha Hubbard, Taquasha Pittman, Breanna Shelby, Leo Whitfield, Hannah Brennan, Courtney Cole, Carlos Garcia-Gallegos, Joseph Lucas, Eliza Raspberry, Shawn Sweaney, Scotty Wright, Marshall Brown, Ana Diaz, Mckenzie Gross, Maddy Nigut, Jared Roberts, and Seth Tice.
* In Kathy Rogers' class; Jaquille Carter, Carolyn Goodrich, McKenzie Scherer, Wynter Clanton, Derrika Hollywood, Joe Williams, Willie Gooch, and Dakota Peeler.
* In Shelli Williams' class; Brayden Bailey, Cameron Crowley, Austin Davis, Madison Harmon, Garrett Jones, Brianna Martin, Dylan Myers, Dallas Campbell, Katelyn Damron, Matthew Eguia, Whitney Hicks, Laquaries Jones, Denise Massey, Taron Smith, Hayden Cooksey, Natalie Daniels, Camila Felix, Trevor Higgins, Jessa Lance, Le'Andre Mitchell, and Desani Stracener.