With Circleville Elementary School staff, administration, and families in attendance on Thursday, 172 5th graders graduated through the Pickaway County Sheriff's Office's D.A.R.E. program.
Implemented by Deputy Sheriff Deputy Dale Thomas and his canine partner Deputy Mike Blue, the Pickaway County chapter of the D.A.R.E. program educates kids on leading a drug free lifestyle by "providing cutting edge instruction that helps prevent drug use by developing basic, core skills neede for safe and responsible choices."
"The information that Deputy Thomas gave us taught me that using tobacco is never a good choice," said 5th graduate D.A.R.E. graduate and 1st place essay winner Mya Pitts.
Pitts was one of eight essay winners from the program's annual end of course essay contest along with Taylor Perkins, Aidyn Bell, Tommise Taylor, Sydney Jones (3rd place), Jacob Reichelderfer, Alyssa Sharp, and Grace Bennett (2nd place).
While the D.A.R.E. program in Pickaway County is in its 23rd year of operation in county schools, it is the program's beginning that Pickaway County Sheriff Rob Radcliff will never forget.
"As long as I am here, as long as I breathe, and as long as I can stand before you I want people to never forget the work of Ruth Neff," said Pickaway County Sheriff Rob Radcliff. "Her grandchildren have taken on the responsibility of helping keep this program alive. They started a foundation which buys the t-shirts and pays for a lot of things that we do in the program. If there is anything we do not have in our budget it is because of the Ruth Neff Foundation makes sure we have it. I always want to make sure that she has the credit every time that I come out here because we would not be here if it was not for her."
Circleville City Schools would like to thank the Pickaway County Sheriff's Office, the Ruth Neff Foundation, and Hetty's Hopes for their continued support and tireless efforts in providing the D.A.R.E. program in 5th and 7th grade.