Madison County DARE hits 100th graduation


 Messenger photos by Kristy Zurbrick
Lt. Teena Gallagher (right), Madison County DARE coordinator, laughs as St. Patrick School fifth-grader reads a comment about Gallagher’s smile from her DARE Commitment letter. Collins was named Top Gun for Madison County DARE’s 100th graduating class.
DARE Officer Jack Dill presents St. Patrick School fifth-grader Abby Anders with a skateboard for earning the most spirit points.
Teachers who have been part of the Madison County DARE program since its beginning 19 years ago include: (from left) Martha Davis and Marlene Brumfield from London City Schools, LaDonna Reeder from Madison Rural Elementary, London Elementary Principal Carol Daniels and St. Patrick Principal Jacob Froning. Nancy Patterson from Jonathan Alder and Cathy Chitty from Norwood Elementary in West Jefferson are not pictured.
 To close out the 100th Madison County DARE graduation, students sing the DARE anthem.

West Jefferson resident Cory Coburn graduated from the Madison County Sheriff Department’s DARE program at St. Patrick School in 1999. He still has the letter he wrote as a fifth-grader and as the class Top Gun. In the letter, he commits himself to a healthy life free of drugs.

On Dec. 12, Coburn recalled that letter as he addressed Madison County’s 100th graduating class of DARE students at a ceremony at St. Patrick School on Dec. 12.

"What you promise today will be with you for the rest of your life," Coburn told the students. "Don’t throw away your DARE paper."

U.S. Army Capt. Dan Husek didn’t—or, more accurately, his parents didn’t. He recently asked his father to dig his DARE commitment out of the family home attic.

"When he read it to me, I realized I am still keeping my promise," Husek said in a statement read by his sister, Karen Husek, at the Dec. 12 ceremony.

For many, DARE’s lessons of self-respect and responsibility have stayed with them from elementary school into adulthood. In Madison County, those lessons started 19 years ago when then Sheriff Steve Saltsman gave Lt. Teena Gallagher the go-ahead to start the DARE program.

She’s been with it ever since, and what started as one class at St. Patrick School became a whole series of classes at schools throughout the county.

"As a student, I looked up to Teena Gallagher. Now, as a fourth-grade teacher, I get to see this role model in action (from a new perspective)," said Amanda Moran, a London Elementary teacher who graduated from the DARE program as a student at Deercreek Elementary.

State Rep. Chris Widener congratulated Gallagher and the Sheriff’s Department for its commitment to the program, stating that DARE is "active, alive and well" in many communities in Ohio, including Madison County. His commendations included Dep. Jack Dill, who has served as a DARE officer for three years, and Chris Carter, who served as a DARE officer for 10 years before becoming a deputy detective.

Regarding recent studies that state that DARE is not effective, Sheriff Jim Sabin said, "I believe they should bring their studies to Madison County." He attributes the program’s success locally to the staff’s dedication and to cooperation from teachers and school administrators.

Gallagher thanked several educators for supporting the program from the very beginning. They include St. Patrick School principal Dr. Jacob Froning, London Elementary Principal Carol Daniels, London teachers Martha Davis and Marlene Brumfield, Madison Rural Elementary teacher LaDonna Reeder, West Jefferson teacher Cathy Chitty, and Jonathan Alder teacher Nancy Patterson.

The spotlight not only shined on the history of DARE in Madison County, it also focused of the program’s present, specifically its 100th graduating class. St. Patrick fifth-grader Sara Collins was named the Top Gun. The team of Abby Anders, Connor Cooley, Cassidy Harpold, Lorissa LaForge and Matthew Thompson received the team spirit award. Abby Anders earned the most spirit points as an individual.

In addition to those already mentioned, DARE graduates who took part in the "centennial moment" were Tyler Arnold who served as master of ceremonies, Fr. Joseph Yokum who gave the opening prayer, Chris Bingman who led "The Pledge of Allegiance," and Dep. Jack Gibson who talked about his DARE experience.

DARE Commitment Letter

By Sara Collins, St. Patrick School, Top Gun 2007

I promise that for the rest of my life, I will always be drug free. In DARE, I have learned how much drugs can hurt you. I only thought that tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol would only affect your brain, but it can also affect your throat, mouth, your lungs, heart and liver. In DARE, I’ve also learned that the DARE decision-making model can help you in serious situations. DARE is really important, but some people just don’t care.

There are many different types of peer pressure. The most common kind is friendly. Mostly, you will get a question of if you want a drug from a family member or a friend, so make sure you are careful of choosing your friends. If someone does ask you if you want a drug, make sure you think about what you’re going to do. Make sure you have good eye contact and tell them "no." If that doesn’t work, make up an excuse and then go tell a trusted adult. When you do this, you are making a good choice.

DARE is so important to me. It helps kids stay safe and off of drugs. So, I would like to thank a few people: my first Dr. Froning, for starting DARE, Lt. Gallagher because she is teaching so many kids how to stay healthy and safe, my parents, and last my teacher, Mrs. Schroyer, for being a great teacher. This year in DARE, I really had fun. I learned a lot in DARE, and I will really miss it, but there is one thing I won’t forget, Lt. Gallagher’s smile. Whenever she walked in, she had a smile on her face. Now, and when I’m an adult, I will always remember DARE and what I have learned.

DARE is much more important than just drugs; it’s about how to stay safe and healthy. I think Lt. Gallagher is the only cop I’ve met that has a great sense of humor. She cares so much about other people. I will miss her a lot.

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