On December 12, 2019, DARE graduation was held at Red River Elementary School (RRES). Eighty hard-working students were presented certificates for successfully completing the requirements of the program. Red River Parish Sheriff’s Deputy/DARE Officer Tamara George officiated the ceremony.
DARE is a drug awareness program that is taught across the United States and around the world. Students learn the dangers of using drugs, alcohol and tobacco as well as “how to say no” using DARE’s five resistance strategies. Students also learn the DARE Decision Making Model which is designed to help them make safe and responsible choices. Topics include communication skills, peer pressure, stress and bullying along with facts and health effects of using drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
This year’s graduation was extra special as the students and staff paid tribute to Lt. Roger Longino who unexpectedly passed away on November 24, 2019. Lt. Longino was employed by the Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office for 27 ½ years and served as the DARE Instructor and School Resource Officer at RRES. It was a touching moment as the students sang a song that identified Lt. Longino as “A Legend”!
Lt. Longino’s brother, and fellow DARE Officer, Michael Longino assisted in presenting the DARE awards. He also addressed the graduating students and those in attendance. Deputy Longino has been a DARE Officer with Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office for sixteen years.
Those recognized as this year’s DARE Essay winners were William Landen Clark, Mallory Lewis, Ya’niyah Logan and Malachi Rangel. Workbook winners were Ja’Nyla Caldwell, Brent Danzy, Morgan Housley and Dustin Kijanski. Every one of the students did a great job and all of the essays were exceptional!
Another highlight of the afternoon was when the entire fifth grade class and staff sang the DARE song! It was a job well done and would have brought a big smile to Lt. Longino’s face. As a memorial from the class and school, Lt. Longino’s family was presented a plaque, framed photo and two DARE t-shirts signed by each DARE student.
Before receiving their graduation certificates, Sheriff Glen Edwards spoke to the students about the importance of making good decisions and remembering to utilize those tools taught to them by Deputy George and Lt. Longino. The same sentiment was echoed by Superintendent Alison Hughes, Deputy George, Deputy M. Longino and Assistant Principal Rester who each briefly addressed the fifth grade class.
Sheriff Edwards and the Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Red River Parish School Board and Administration for allowing our department to teach the DARE program in the school. We would also like to thank fifth grade teachers Dadrian Harris, Megan Inman, Sherry Pickett and Tiffany Williams as well as Counselor Crystal Williams (and all others) who made this DARE year a success for the kids. In closing, THANK YOU fifth grade students for your hard work and dedication and THANK YOU parents for entrusting your children to us!