March 1, 2014 at 6:30 AM
WARREN, NJ - Once again, Warren Township Schools is fortunate to have the involvement and support of the Warren Police Department. Starting at the end of February, the D.A.R.E America program began for the 2013-2014 school year, in all four elementary schools. It is a ten week program, culminating in a graduation ceremony for 5th grade students. The D.A.R.E. mission is to equip students with good decision-making skills to help them lead safe and healthy lives.
Officer Patrick Bennett is a police officer with three years of service in Warren. He attended Rutgers University and the Somerset County Police Academy. As Bennett enters his 2nd year teaching D.A.R.E. at Mt. Horeb School, he remarked, “I am happy to have the opportunity to interact with the children of Warren.” In addition to teaching the curriculum he expressed the importance of forging positive relationships in the community and being a strong role model.
D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. As Bennett’s first lessons explained, just like classroom rules, D.A.R.E. guidelines are established to create an atmosphere of respect and confidentiality. He presented a variety of vignettes which he discussed with the students, addressing problems, challenges, and options. As a class, students debated whether certain decisions made for good choices.
In future lessons, D.A.R.E. will address facts about alcohol and tobacco use and the health effects of both. Students will learn how to identify situations that present potential risks and review making safe and responsible choices. The curriculum will compare positive and negative consequences as well. Additional lessons will help students tackle stress by focusing on healthy and constructive activities. Students will learn various effective communication styles to boost confidence. Final lessons will deal with bullying and align with the pillars of character education.
To complete the program, each participant will write about his/her own experience in D.A.R.E., with some essays being read at the D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony. Bennett commented, “Having Principal Cook and the 5th grade teachers supporting the program is tremendous.”
In addition to Bennett, the following members of the Warren Police Department are D.A.R.E. instructors in Warren for the 2013-2014 school year: Officer Rob Dinsmore (ALT School), Detective Kevin Gallagher (Central School) and Officer Joe Grasso (Woodland School). Warren Township Schools and the Warren Police Department Shining Brighter Every Day.