Fifth Grade Dare Essays Winners

Pueblo County Deputy John Christie and D.A.R.E. Essay Winner Daniela Vasquez

A Liberty Point Elementary School student was the second place finisher in this year’s District 70 D.A.R.E. essay contest, making her teachers and school very proud of her accomplishments.

Daniela Vasquez was recognized at a school assembly for having the second best essay in the competition among nearly 650 fifth graders in Pueblo School District 70.

Through the D.A.R.E. curriculum, taught by Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office deputies, students learn about the importance of steering clear of drugs and alcohol, reporting suspicious activity and bullying to adults and about things like peer pressure.

The hope is to help children develop good lifelong habits that they can carry with them into middle school and beyond.

Liberty Point Elementary School fifth grade teacher Tracee Easton said students are instructed to write an essay but given some free reign on what’s included.

“This year he (Deputy John Christie who taught Liberty Point Elementary School students) said he just wanted to read about what they learned, and how D.A.R.E. affected them,” she said.

Vasquez’s essay included the three things she said were most useful to her – bullying, the D.A.R.E. decision model and tobacco products.

“I think Deputy Christie is really nice and does just a really nice job,” she said. “He taught us a lot like how bad drugs are for us and how important it is to cherish friendships.”

Although the winner of the essay contest was announced at the District-wide D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony, runners up were not mentioned, so Vasquez didn’t know about her accomplishment until Christie congratulated her at the school assembly.

“I was really surprised. I’ve never won such a big award before,” she said.

A graduation ceremony at Runnels Elementary School’s Gladys Hague Runnels Theatre on Jan. 24 capped off fifth-graders’ participation in the 18-week DARE program.

The master of ceremonies was the students’ DARE instructor, Capt. Randy Aguillard, of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. Head of School Marcia Mackay and elementary social studies teacher Cheyenne Davis assisted Aguillard throughout the ceremony.

Dylan Evans, Sarah Ortlieb and Lina Derzi were honored as the DARE essay winners and read their prize-winning essays about what they learned from the program. The three also received special pins, certificates of achievement and a handshake from Aguillard. Lina was the overall essay winner and received a DARE medal.

Every fifth-grader received a DARE T-shirt, workbook and gift bag at the end of the ceremony.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, according to its website, is designed to “help empower students in their decisions to live lives free from substance abuse, violence and other dangerous behaviors.”

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