The group of 34 students from Geoffrey Ward and Tara Bliss’ classes began the 9-week course at the end of January. The classes were led by Scotts Valley Police Lt. John Hohmann — who came out of retirement specifically for the purpose of teaching D.A.R.E. when staffing issues at the police department threatened to suspend the program.
“John Hohmann was kind enough to come out of retirement and teach D.A.R.E.,” said Scotts Valley Police Chief John Weiss.
D.A.R.E., which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, is a school and police department-based program that teaches kids the dangers of drugs, alcohol, bullying and peer pressure, as well as the role that law enforcement plays in the community.
“It’s very age-appropriate and covers appropriate topics,” Hohmann said. “It builds a relationship between law enforcement and this age group.”
During the course, students wrote essays on what they learned through the D.A.R.E. program. After the essays were submitted, a winner and a runner-up were chosen from both classes and were allowed to read their essays during the graduation ceremony.
Jayden Johnson was the winner and Noel Bresson the runner up in Bliss’ class.
“One reason D.A.R.E. has been important to me is because I grew up in a house with an alcoholic,” Johnson said.
For Ward’s class, Lena Platt was the winner and the runner-up was Daniel Campos.
“One little choice could potentially change your life forever,” Platt said. “Whenever you say or do an action, that word or action can never be taken back.”
In close of the graduation ceremony, each student went up on stage and received a D.A.R.E. T-shirt, a medallion and a certificate of completion. They also shook hands with Weiss.
“We have great kids in Scotts Valley and that doesn’t happen by accident,” Weiss said.
The program, which was originally developed in 1983, is popular with teachers as well as the children.
“I think the D.A.R.E. program is a great program to help kids learn different skills for how to deal with things that come with life,” Miss Bliss said.
Steve Patterson, principal of Baymonte Christian School, greeted students and parents after the graduation was over.
“The D.A.R.E. program has been a core program that we have done here at Baymonte,” Patterson said. “It gives them the opportunity to plan ahead and make decisions before they are confronted with peer pressure and make bad decisions that could influence the rest of our lives.”
Hohmann received a surprise gift of a sweatshirt, water flask and a $500 contribution for the Special Olympics from Student Council President Grace Brock and Student Council Treasurer McClain Kressman. Hohmann is a passionate advocate for Special Olympics in California.
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