Elementary students graduate from DARE program

BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. — With all the pomp and circumstance, fifth graders at East Side Elementary School graduate from a 10-week program.

The D.A.R.E. “Keepin’ it Real” program is teaching students how to make wise decisions.

“What we do here is put tools in their toolbox and let them know we support them doing the right thing,” Brownsville Mayor Bill Rawls said. “The D.A.R.E. program is now called ‘Keepin’ it Real,’ so we have to connect with our children and make sure they are vested in for the future, because our children are our future.”

Mayor Rawls said this is the second class to take on the new curriculum. They are lessons D.A.R.E. Officer Donelda Arview said prepare them for more difficult school years.

“Peer pressure is the highest when they reach middle school, so we feel like if we can catch them right before they go into middle school, they’ll have the ‘shield,’ per se,” Officer Arview said.

One of the main focuses of the program is making the right decisions when wrong choices are tempting.

“Any time we have a problem, the first thing we need to do is say, ‘just what is my problem, and what are my choices in this situation?'” Officer Arview said. “They could use the D.A.R.E. Decision-Making Model throughout their entire lives, and I really hope it sticks with them.”

City leaders hope the program will continue to grow and make an impact in future crime statistics for Brownsville and Haywood County. This is the second graduating class with the “Keepin’ It Real” curriculum.