OAKLEY, OH (FOX19) - The DARE program, which teaches school children the importance of avoiding drugs and alcohol and resisting peer pressure, held its last graduation ceremony in Cincinnati at St. Cecilia School in Oakley.
Twenty-two fifth graders were received certificates for participating in the program.
DARE Officer Michele Richmond says the graduation was bitter-sweet. "I did have an emotional moment, the kids mean a lot to me," she said.
Officer Richmond meant a lot to the kids who gave her a standing ovation and plenty of hugs. Richmond says her goal was to leave the kids with lessons they can live with.
"I want them to be safe, I want them to make good decisions because good decisions will affect them the rest of their lives."
Young lives which are a constant concern to parents like Marquis Black. "They get older and they start seeing what's going on around them and stuff like that and I just don't want them to be pressured into doing something they don't want to do or doing something that's wrong," he said. "So its important to me that they do not do that and continue their education and go to college."
Cathy Hirsch is a parent who, despite critical studies, says the program works. "I know it's been valuable for my boys," she said. "I'm very concerned about peer pressure and negative influences. My child is more of a follower so its real important for him to say no."
Fifth grade teacher Michael Mohr says having close relations with the police is also valuable. "Instead of having the attitude of oh its the police, we need to run away, we need to get away from them," she said. "It's more of oh there's officer Richmond let's go say hit to her and talk to her."
Officers in the DARE program have gone back to patrol duty.
The principal at St. Cecilia, Michael Goedde, says being a catholic school the students will still be taught some of the principles of the DARE program like making good choices and personal responsibility.