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Valley Point Elementary Fifth Grader Wins Whitfield DARE Essay Contest | Local News


Eliher Gonzalez-Favila says she plans to use the knowledge she gained from the DARE program this year to avoid doing something she will regret later.

That’s how the fifth-grader from Valley Point Elementary summed up his essay on drug abuse resistance education, which was deemed the best of hundreds written by this year’s DARE graduates. of 13 elementary schools in Whitfield County.

Gonzalez-Favila and the 12 other winners from each school were honored at the 17th Annual DARE Recognition Program held May 16 at the Dalton Convention Center, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Dalton and the County Sheriff’s Office. Whitfield.

As the first place winner, Gonzalez-Favila received a plaque and a $100 cash prize. Savannah Merrell of Pleasant Grove Elementary won a plaque and $50 for second place, while a plaque and $20 went to Malaki McCullough of Beaverdale Elementary for third place.

Each year, the 11-week DARE program teaches the fundamentals of substance abuse consequences, peer pressure and other life skills to hundreds of local fifth graders, said the program director, Lt. Tammy Silvers.

“Basically, every week in class we talk about making good decisions and the importance of making those good decisions,” said Silvers, congratulating the 13 winners for their efforts. “You are the cream of the crop – you are the best of the best. You have accomplished something only 13 students from Whitfield County Schools have accomplished this year, and we are so proud of you.

Kiwanis Club’s Bert Poston, the program’s emcee who is also a local district attorney, praised the support of parents and school officials in making the DARE program a success each year.

“As important as it is to learn facts,” Poston said, “it’s equally important to learn how to speak and write and speak and share that knowledge with others, so one thing that what we really love about this program and about the DARE trial is that you have 13 children who have shown exceptional knowledge but also an exceptional ability to communicate.

Other school-level winners who were recognized during the program—under the eyes of family, school officials, and Kiwanians—include:

• Antioch – Emmaleigh Dover

• Cedar Ridge – Zaira Mejia

• Cohutta – Miley Farmer

• Dawnville – Kaylee De Leon

• Widening gap – Brooklyn Anderson

• East Side – Ariana Munguia

• New Hope – Sophie Lofty

• Tunnel Hill – Lyla Beckler

• Varnell – Emiliano Barragan

• Westside – Elsa Gewecke

A special treat during the program was the return of Edwin Hernandez, who won the essay contest in 2015 as a fifth grader at Eastside Elementary. He is now a member of the United States Army and will be graduating this year as an honors student from Southeast Whitfield High School.

“Even though a lot of time has passed since I completed the program,” Hernandez said, “I like to think that DARE’s core beliefs have stayed with me and influenced my decisions, and I want you to children here today to try to apply them to you too.

In addition to learning to say no to drugs and alcohol, Hernandez said a third important outcome of the program for him was learning to trust smart.

“In this world, not everyone who says they’re your friend really means it,” he said. “That even goes for your family members. Now, I’m not saying you can’t trust anyone, or that you should be suspicious of everyone you meet or have ever met, but I’m saying you have to be very careful who you trust. If someone you know has ever offered you something or tried to talk you into doing something that you knew was wrong, chances are someone doesn’t consider your well-being. be as a top priority. And those aren’t empty words, I’ve seen them play more times than I can remember.

Hernandez cited the example of a friend who missed much of his senior year because he accepted marijuana gummy bears from a “shady” acquaintance before a football game.

“Because it was marijuana, the police got involved,” Hernandez said. “Fortunately, my bandmate didn’t get a prison sentence, but he was still forced to spend the rest of his first semester, and most of his second semester, at Crossroads. And ever since it remained in his permanent file, some of his friends considered him a fool, a criminal, and excluded him from their lives.

Hernandez said his friend told him the worst part about the incident was not the stain on his record, but the feeling of betrayal he had from someone he trusted.

“So believe me, take it because of my bandmate, be smart about who you trust, and be very careful of those around you,” Hernandez told the students, “because everyone world around whom you call friend is not who they say they are.”

Eliher Gonzalez-Favila’s winning essay

Today I’d like to talk about six things I learned in DARE, why I think they’re the most important, how I stay safe, and why I avoid some of them. These topics are the reporting of bullying, stress, alcohol and tobacco, the support network and the DARE decision-making model (DDMM).

First, let me talk about bullying. Nationally, 20% of students aged 12 to 18 have been or are being bullied. To stop this problem, DARE clearly showed me how to report bullying safely. First, we need to learn the 5 W’s. Who: Who is being bullied? What: What’s going on? Where: Where is this happening? Finally, why: why is this happening? The 5 Ws will make it easier for us to report bullying. We can report bullying by telling a trusted adult, friend or reporting it to the DARE box. If we don’t report the bullying as soon as possible, the victim could feel useless, develop anxiety, depression and possibly commit suicide.

Next, I would like to talk about stress. Stress can be caused by many things: bullying, overthinking something, any type of problems, a test, etc., etc. You may not think about the consequences of not calming down in a stressful situation, but they are not. satisfying. Two examples of bad consequences are addiction to tobacco and alcohol (which I will discuss later). Think about it, it is not necessary to find a solution in tobacco or alcohol. Some things I do to calm myself down in a stressful situation are listen to music, talk with someone, laugh, write, change the subject, and go to sleep. You can also use these strategies, or you can use whatever calms you down.

Now I would like to talk about alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol is illegal for those under 21. Before, tobacco was illegal for those under 18-19, but now the law has changed. People under 21 cannot use tobacco. As you know, many people under this age still consume these products. Many people use alcohol and/or tobacco because they think they are “cool” or simply to “impress” others. Others do it to “solve” their problems. The thing is, most of them don’t know what’s going on in their bodies when they consume these products. They don’t know they could die. The DARE book says, “There are 75,000 alcohol-related deaths each year in the United States.” Tobacco, we can count 450,000 deaths each year: 400,000 for smokers and 50,000 for people who rub shoulders with smokers. Smokers may not know that if they do this on a daily basis, they will have dental problems, memory loss, loss of self-control, heart disease, an unhealthy body, coma and finally… the dead. Please I beg you never smoke or drink alcohol. It’s not worth the shot.

Now, what I think is the most important thing I learned in DARE was the support network. Our support network can be made up of a trusted adult, a friend, a sibling or even our pet. Our support network can help us with anything we need. I learned that if we had a loyal and trustworthy support network, we wouldn’t face all or most of the problems I mentioned earlier. If we are being bullied, we can ask someone in our support network to help us. If we feel stressed, we can speak with someone from our support network. If we have tobacco and/or alcohol problems, we can ask someone we trust to help us out of this situation.

Finally, the DARE Decision Making Model (DDMM). DARE stands for Define: Describe the problem. Evaluate: what are our choices. Answer: make a choice. Finally, evaluate: Did we make a good choice. I feel like if we know what that means, we would be able to quickly find the problem and quickly find the solution. This, like the help network, will help us prevent most or all of the problems I mentioned above.

To sum up, what I think were the most important things I learned from being in DARE were reporting bullying, stress, alcohol and tobacco, the support network and the model of DARE Decision Making (DDMM). I always try to avoid everything except the help network and DDMM to stay safe, and to make sure I don’t do anything I regret later.

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