Stewartsville Elementary School proudly hosted a graduation ceremony for over 75 4th-grade students who completed the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program. The event took place on Friday, January 5, at Stewartsville Elementary, and saw the presence of parents, families, teachers, administrators, police officers, Police Chief Rizzo, and North Huntingdon Township Manager Harry Faulk.
The Norwin School District implemented the updated D.A.R.E. program for the 2023-2024 school year in collaboration with the North Huntingdon Township Police Department. Officer Anna Jandric, who joined the district for this purpose, led the initiative with a mission to empower students with the knowledge and skills necessary for making positive life choices.
Officer Jandric expressed her dedication to community engagement, stating, “Throughout my career, I have worked to forge strong bonds with community members, attending neighborhood meetings, organizing events, and actively seeking opportunities to connect with residents on a personal level. I understand the importance of trust between law enforcement and the community and strive to break down barriers, dispel negative stereotypes, and create an environment of collaboration and understanding.”
The recently updated D.A.R.E. program, made available to the district at no cost through secured grant funding, features a K-12 curriculum with specific lessons tailored to each grade level. This research-based and evidence-based curriculum addresses the "Theory of Prevention" underlying the content, offering a comprehensive approach to drug abuse resistance.
Unlike the original 17-lesson D.A.R.E. curriculum established over 30 years ago, the new program is designed to engage students through a dynamic and interactive curriculum specifically crafted for their age group. Sessions cover a variety of topics, including drug awareness, peer pressure resistance, conflict resolution, and effective communication skills. Various teaching methods, such as role-playing exercises, group discussions, and real-life scenarios, encourage critical thinking and problem-solving.
Highlighting the importance of positive relationships between law enforcement officers and students, the program, in partnership with the North Huntingdon Township Police Department, aims to break down stereotypes and foster trust and open communication. Students gain a deeper understanding of their role in maintaining a safe community and the significance of being responsible citizens.
During the graduation ceremony, two essay winners from each class had the opportunity to read their essays, adding a personal touch to the event. The DARE program at Stewartsville Elementary School stands as a testament to the commitment of the Norwin School District and the North Huntingdon Township Police Department to the well-being and positive development of their students.
In continuation of the DARE Program's success, Sunset Valley Elementary is set to host its graduation ceremony later this month. The 10-week programs will also begin at Hahntown Elementary and Sheridan Terrace, with graduation ceremonies scheduled for later this spring.
The Norwin School District extends its sincere appreciation for the dedication of Officer Anna Jandric and expresses gratitude for the ongoing partnership with the North Huntingdon Township and Police Department.