On Wed., Nov. 20, fifth grade students at Williams Intermediate School (WIS) in Pell City hosted special visitors for their D.A.R.E. graduation, including Pell City Schools Superintendent Dr. James Martin, St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray, Pell City Police Chief Paul Irwin, St. Clair County District Attorney Lyle Harmon, and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.

“Graduation means you finish something,” Marshall told the gym full of fifth graders and teachers. “You’ve put in a lot of hard work and received a lot of information. What’s important is what you are going to do with that information now.”

Almost 400 students attended the 10-week D.A.R.E. program, led by Pell City Police Officers Mac Pruitt and Thomas Gray. Each student received a certificate for completing the course. The Pell City Police Department also brought Frisbees and balls they were throwing to students, and all the special guests, including Att. Gen. Marshall, pitched in.

Marshall told students that law enforcement officers were his heroes and they “are willing to put their lives on the line to ensure our safety.” He also applauded their investment in teaching the fifth graders about the importance of making good decisions.

“Now that we’ve given you this knowledge, what do we expect?” Marshall asked the students. “We expect you to use these skills and knowledge to make good decisions. Choices you make impact others as well. You can be that hero for others and stand up for them.”

The D.A.R.E. program is an international initiative that leads millions of students each year through a program intended to benefit their lives. With a focus on teaching kids how to make safe and healthy choices, the program is a popular method to help law enforcement officers connect with students and teach them lifelong lessons.

It has expanded from its initial focus on teaching students about the dangers of drugs and violence to include alcohol, tobacco, bullying and other relevant topics. The main goal of the program is to teach students that with every action comes a consequence.

Pell City Schools Superintendent Dr. James Martin said, “D.A.R.E. teaches about dangers of drugs but it also teaches that our law enforcement are here to help us. I’m very thankful for what they do for the community and our kids.”

The program is taught to fifth graders throughout St. Clair County each year.

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