Radney DARE

Submitted / The Outlook Alexander City Police Department DARE officer David Johnson poses with essay winners Mason Kim, Cheyenne Fuller, Caroline Stegall, Shamiriya Pogue, Marlee Edwards and Brooklyn Collingham. The Radney Elementary School sixth grade students' essays were chosen as the best.

In an average year five DARE essay winners are selected at Radney Elementary but this is no ordinary year.

“They were all good,” Alexander City Police Department DARE officer David Johnson said. “We couldn’t get it down to five, so we picked six this year.”

Johnson said the essays are a requirement of graduation from DARE for sixth graders at Radney Elementary School.

This year’s winners of the essay contest are Mason Kim, Cheyenne Fuller, Caroline Stegall, Shamiriya Pogue, Marlee Edwards and Brooklyn Collingham.

The students' essays varied but centered around the DARE principles of Define, Assess, Respond and Evaluate.

Kim’s essay described how he used the DARE decision making model (DDMM) to help figure out a solution to neighbor’s dog getting out while the owner was on vacation.

“I used DDMM and figured out a couple of choices,” Kim said in his essay. “1: let the dog escape and run out of cat and dog food. 2: Check on the dog every 10-20 minutes. 3: Get the rope from the shed and tie it around the gate. I decided that No. 3 was the best option and performed the task of tying. The rope was very sturdy and the dog couldn’t get out.”

Kim’s essay stated DDMM can be used in a lots of different situations helping avoid choices with negative consequences.

Stegall said in her essay the DARE program covered lots of topics.

“It was really fun,” Stegall said. “I learned a lot of life skills. I learned to not to smoke. Not to do alcohol. And the most important, not to bully.”

Fuller explained some of the consequences of bullying in her essay.

“When you bully someone, you can get in a lot of trouble,” Fuller said. “You can also loose your friends by bullying. So I learned not to bully and try to help someone getting bullied.”

Edwards shared a different skill she learned in DARE.

“My favorite lesson in DARE is about resistance,” Edwards said. “Officer Johnson taught us that sometimes you just have to say, ‘No!’ Just because someone is your friend and they ask you to do something you don’t want to do then tell them, ‘NO!’ Just because they’re your friend doesn’t mean you have to do it.”

Johnson said he was pleased to see the quality of the essays and hopes students next year will do just as well.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.