UNION, NJ – Students from Jefferson Elementary School students took the D.A.R.E. pledge – not to use drugs or join gangs -- on Thursday evening at their D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony.

“As the weeks went by,” said School Resource and D.A.R.E. Officer Karen Moro, “the students gained a vast amount of knowledge about how drugs and alcohol, violence, gangs, and some aspects of social media can negatively affect their lives – not just now, but in their future as well.”

Moro said the students became more concerned with how to live a drug-, alcohol-, and violence-free lifestyle. They began to explore paths that concentrated on more positive outcomes, such as expanding their own unique qualities to better themselves.

Sign Up for E-News

This was the 24th annual D.A.R.E. graduation program in the Township of Union public schools.  D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is an international substance abuse prevention education program that seeks to prevent use of controlled drugs, membership in gangs, and violent behavior.

Students who enter the program sign a pledge not to use drugs or join gangs and are educated by local police officers about the government's beliefs about the dangers of recreational drug use in an interactive in-school curriculum.

Mayor Suzette Cavadas said, “great success in life is possible when you make the right choices and arm yourself with the great weapon you can carry--that of hard work and great effort.”

Former Union High School graduate and Miami Dolphin football player Isa Abdul Quddus spoke to the students about his experiences in the D.A.R.E. program and beyond.  “I remember sitting in those seats,” he said, “and listening to the things I was told which got me to where I am today.  I surrounded myself with friends who wouldn’t join gangs, wouldn’t drink alcohol or do drugs because we all knew that would be in the way of us achieving our dreams.” 

“My advice to you,” said Quddus, “is make sure you keep the people around you that won’t get you in trouble; people that want to see you do great in life.  The friends you should have around you are friends that have goals and dreams.”