Fifth Graders Finish DARE Program
This week, the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program ended its 12-week run with Eastchester’s elementary schools, as high school volunteers visited fifth grade students at Greenvale and Anne Hutchinson to discuss important tips for their upcoming transition to Eastchester Middle School.
The DARE program is run in conjunction with the Eastchester Police Department and consists of 12 weekly hour-long sessions that educate Eastchester’s fifth graders on making informed decisions as they move towards young adulthood.
“It’s really not just about drugs and alcohol; it’s teaching the kids about how to make good choices,” said Anne Hutchinson fifth grade teacher Deanna Santoro. “Some of the lessons include handling peer pressure and helping the kids figure out the best response to situations they may face."
This year, the program was run by Eastchester Police Officer Jeyfer Chacon. Santoro said that Chacon was a hit with the students and that, despite this being his first year as Eastchester’s DARE Officer, he is certainly familiar with Eastchester schools.
“He was actually a student here,” said Santoro. “He was in Jennifer Rogan’s fifth grade class, and now he’s the DARE Officer in all of our classes, and it’s neat that he did a really nice job with the kids.”
Santoro thanked Chacon for his work with the students and also noted that this week’s lesson— which saw high school Role Models speak with the fifth graders—was particularly insightful for the students.
“I think it was probably their favorite lesson,” said Santoro. “When they’re hearing it from other kids, I think it gives them a realistic vision of middle school and how these students made it through.”
The transition to middle school can be a daunting one for elementary school students from both a social and academic standpoint, she added, and placing more information in students’ hands can help offset some of the unease they may feel about their impending change of schools.
“The Role Models talk about how you might have a lot of homework, you might worry about tests and there might be people who make bad choices,” she said. “But if you maintain your confidence, if you get with a good group of people that have your back, you can accomplish everything that you want to.”