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Program 'teaches kids to be responsible, make good choices'

Cary Ashby • Updated Apr 13, 2019 at 4:00 PM

MONROEVILLE — Judging from all the smiles at the D.A.R.E. graduation, it’s hard to tell who enjoyed themselves more: Huron County Sheriff’s Deputy Mitch Cawrse or the students.

“It’s been a real fun experience. These kids are great,” Cawrse said at the beginning of the casual graduation ceremony Thursday at St. Joseph Catholic School in Monroeville. 

For the last three years, the deputy has been the D.A.R.E. instructor in the Monroeville, New London and South Central school systems. Other instructors in Huron County are Norwalk Police Detective Sgt. Dave Daniels, Willard Police Officer Eddie Tackett and part-time Plymouth Police Officer Terry Shean.

Monroeville had two recent D.A.R.E. graduations — Thursday at St. Joseph and Friday at Monroeville Elementary School. Cawrse joked with the St. Joseph students that one youngster said she thought he “was a real cop,” so she would listen to what he had to say.

The deputy distributed D.A.R.E. decals, temporary tattoos, pencils and T-shirts to the new graduates after the brief graduation ceremony. 

“It means a lot to me to have the parents come,” said Cawrse, who also thanked the students and their parents for letting him be a part of the children’s lives for 10 weeks.

David McDowell, St. Joseph principal, said D.A.R.E. not only helps students learn how to understand the dangers of drug and alcohol usage, but the curriculum also shows them the importance of being part of a community.

Sixth-grade student Grace Stieber shared a history of the program. She is the daughter of Glenn and Amanda, of Monroeville.

Classmate Audra Hohler, of Norwalk, shared her winning report, saying “D.A.R.E. is a great program that teaches kids to be responsible, make good choices and stand up for what’s right.” She won a medal, a stuffed D.A.R.E. mascot and lunch with her instructor.

“D.A.R.E. class is a great way for kids to learn the right way to say ‘No’ to things that can harm them. I am very lucky that my school provides D.A.R.E. for our school,” said the daughter of Michael and Holli, who learned there are about 75,000 alcohol-related deaths each year in the United States.

The sixth-grader said the decision-making model has helped her have “a better understanding of what I need to do to make a great choice” — something she plans to use throughout her life.

“I also learned about making safe and responsible choices, resistance strategies, responding to pressure, signs of stress, confident communication, responsibly reporting bullying and needing help. It’s always great knowing that you have learned all these things that can help (me) make choices in the future.” 

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