GCCS students graduate from D.A.R.E. program
March 18, 2016
Thomas R. Throssell
Gila River Indian News
After 12 weeks of vigorous study, 61 rambunctious Gila Crossing Community (GCCS) School fifth graders graduated from D.A.R.E.’s (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) co-curriculum program on Mar. 10.
Gila River Police Department (GRPD) School Resource Officer (SRO) Rachelle Rodriquez, Sgt. Joaquin Manuel, SRO James Milano, and SRO Ester Poolaw were present to award GCCS students with certificates of graduation as friends and family watched from the school’s gymnasium bleachers.
After the students received their certificates, they presented poster boards showing what they had learned over the past four months. Afterwards, the students enjoyed ice cream and cake.
The three GCCS fifth grade classes, made up of Kenneth Young, Sherri Miller and Karen Scott’s students, began their D.A.R.E. studies last November.
Rodriquez, who taught all three fifth grade classes weekly, said that the students participated in a variety of activities such as learning how to respond to bullying, peer pressure, the effects of alcohol and tobacco, and learning how to smartly navigate through situations involving illicit substances.
One of the challenges of teaching the classes, said Rodriquez, was gaining the students’ trust.
“It’s all about building relationships and trust, because its one of those things where when I first walked into the classroom, what do you think I got?” said Rodriquez. The students put their hands in the air because that is what they think when they see my uniform, she said. “My thing was that I wanted to tear down that wall and…build something new. I wanted [them] to get to know me as a person and what I stand for. I am here for the Community and to keep you guys safe,” Rodriquez said.
The D.A.R.E. program began in the Community last year after GRPD officers became certified.
“It is a lot of work that the officers put in to teach the classes,” said Sgt. Manuel. “They have gone through training for the D.A.R.E. to get certified, which was 80 hours of really intense work.”
This is the third D.A.R.E. graduation within the Community since the program started and the SROs are looking forward to another graduating class at Sacaton Middle School (SMS) in April.
The D.A.R.E. co-curriculum program is currently being taught at SMS, Sacaton Elementary School, Blackwater Community School, Casa Blanca Community School, GCCS, Skyline Gila River District 5, and St. Peter Indian Mission School.
For more information about the D.A.R.E. co-curriculum program contact GRPD Sgt. Joaquin Manuel at Joaquin.firstname.lastname@example.org or call (520) 610-2806.