Students from 7 elementary schools celebrate DARE graduation

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News 12 at 6:00, May 17, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga. --- These kids, learning about drug awareness and how to stay away and how to say no.

"If someone offers you drugs, you can use the decision making model to decide to take it or not. And hopefully you'll decide not to take it, because that's the right decision to make always," Hannah Weckel said.

A decision to say no and walk away.

"Learning about what not to do, what you can do. Say no and back away from drugs, and not take them," Brittany Willard said.

The D.A.R.E. officers teach the students the effects of smoking and alcohol on the body. And they're not just D.A.R.E. officers, they're role models.

"After awhile they realize that we're there as a friend and there to help them, not there, as they say take us to jail," Deputy Michael Gilliland said.

Their goal is to prevent drugs and gangs in Richmond County schools. Something we've heard a lot about lately. In April, five students from the Academy of Richmond County were arrested after a fight broke out at the school. About 700 students crowded into the hallway, some flashing gang signs. And last week, 27 students from Cross Creek High School were suspended, 12 for the rest of the school year for suspected gang affiliation. So the D.A.R.E. program is adapting to today's youth and taking on the gang problem and the problem with peer pressure.

"So you know not to hurt yourself and your family and all that. So they won't have to help you. You can help yourself without taking them," Willard said.

Deputy Gilliland said it's all about keeping the kids on track.

"They can have a fulfilled life without using drugs," Deputy Gilliland said.

Just one of many lessons Deputy Gilliland hopes these kids will walk or skate away with. This was the second annual D.A.R.E. Bash. The D.A.R.E. program is a ten week course and it will start up again in November.

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