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D.A.R.E. Graduations for Cottonwood Heights Fifth Graders

Jan 28, 2016 03:23PM ● By Bryan Scott

By Cassandra Goff | [email protected]

Cottonwood-Holladay - Fifth graders from four elementary schools within Cottonwood Heights had their D.A.R.E. graduations, which were held on Jan. 11-14.  

Officer Galieti runs the D.A.R.E. program for the students and is able to come teach the fifth graders important lessons about adult life. D.A.R.E. began in 1983 in California when there were some serious drug problems within the state. 

The graduations consisted of the principal, Officer Galieti, Chief Russo and other special guests briefly speaking, selected students reading their written essays, the graduates receiving their “degrees” and a brief PowerPoint presentation.  

“It’s such a special opportunity for our students to be able to develop a relationship with Officer Galieti as he comes every week. They have had the opportunity to hear his wisdom, his stories, and to ask questions and to share their stories.” principal of Oakdale Elementary, Kiersten Draper, said. “They think a lot about what they learn.”

Chief Russo explained how the program is in effect to teach the students what they will encounter in the real world and they get to “interact with the police at a positive level and that’s something we need these days.”

“In today’s environment, we have to work really hard on rebuilding some of the trust and that relationship with the communities and businesses, and so by integrating Officer Galieti with the kids in the class they get to know him not only as a police officer teaching D.A.R.E., but they get to know him as a teacher and as a man and that’s equally as important,” Russo said. 

He shared the shocking fact that there is a higher chance for losing a child from a prescription drug overdose, specifically those involving opium, than with gun violence and other such crimes.  

Russo said to “educate [students] here is the best use of our taxpayer money.” 

As part of the D.A.R.E. curriculum, the students need “to write a little essay,” Galieti said. “They get to apply their writing skills to their D.A.R.E. curriculum.”

The selected students read from their essays. Within the essays, they discussed the effects of alcohol such as memory loss and slow reflexes, communication styles, different types of bullying including cyber and vocal and making safe and responsible choices. They discussed how they should not be a bystander and to tell, but never tattle, about suspicious circumstances. They discussed how they, as well as others, should say no to drugs. Lastly, they defined D.A.R.E. 

D is for define: describing a challenge. A is for assess: what are the available choices. R is for respond: making a choice. E is for evaluate: evaluating the situation.

After the students read their essays, their teachers called them by name to walk across the stage to accept their certificate, shake the hands of Galieti, Russo and their principal, and smile to their parents as a D.A.R.E. graduate.