RUSSELL More than 170 fifth-grade students at Russell-McDowell Intermediate School graduated from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program on Tuesday.

Bryan Tackett, the Flatwoods Police Department’s assigned school resource officer and D.A.R.E. officer, said to graduate, each of the fifth-graders had to complete a 10-week course that covered topics from the effects of drug and alcohol on the body to peer pressure and bullying.

“It’s a great program for the community,” said Tackett. “These kids are our future. We need to support them now and teach them the proper way of life.”

Tackett called the name of each student who graduated, and handed them a certificate of completion for the course.

“I’m so proud of you all,” said Tackett.

Tackett was also accompanied by several officers, who all voiced their support and care for the students, including Kevin Bowe, Tackett’s original School Resource and D.A.R.E. Officer. Bowe was part of the Flatwoods Police Department.

“Bowe was my school resource officer in this same school,” said Tackett. “I appreciate your friendship to me.”

Boyd County Sheriff’s Department’s Tim Wechsler, who completed D.A.R.E. school with Tackett, encouraged the children to continue supporting one another. Wechsler also said he wants the children to know that officers are never someone to be afraid of, and all of the officers in attendance were there to support them.

“We want you all to know we’ve got your back,” said Wechsler.

Wechsler said that the D.A.R.E. decision-making model helps children make better decisions. The model stands for define, assess, respond and evaluate and encourages children to think about the decision at hand. Wechsler said throughout his 28 years in law enforcement, the program has made a significant impact to his own life.

“The D.A.R.E. program has opened up a new avenue for myself,” said Wechsler. “I love kids.”

Tackett echoed the sentiment that the children in attendance needed to continue to work together and make good decisions.

“Run with the same kids with the same core values as you,” said Tackett.

On top of the 170 graduates, there were also seven essay winners selected, one representing each class in addition to the best overall essay.

Each student read his or her essay aloud to the rest of the students, recapping what they’ve learned about the D.A.R.E. decision-making module, peer pressure, vaping, cigarette smoke, effective communication and Tackett’s positive influence on them.

“The kids have taught me as much as I’ve taught them,” said Tackett.

To learn more about the D.A.R.E. program, visit https://dare.org/.

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