New drug awareness curriculum is possible

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2003

Awareness of drug and alcohol problems is not a subject area that will be ignored with the loss of the district's D.A.R.E. program next year.

Ellis Principal Candace Raskin and Director of Educational Services Sheila Berger presented a replacement plan Thursday that they hope will be even more beneficial to kids.

The program, called Project ALERT, differs from D.A.R.E. in a number of ways.

Email newsletter signup

It focuses on middle school students instead of fifth graders, will be over a three-year period, uses more role-playing to give children an idea of the kinds of situations they may encounter and is better about following up, Raskin said.

She said the follow up is important because many parents have the attitude of, "My son or daughter has been through D.A.R.E. and is now able to resist drugs."

She said the education at school and home must be a constant thing.

Also, the program will be taught by a trained instructor instead of a police officer.

Raskin said that was one of her biggest problems with D.A.R.E.

"The people that were actually trained to do the job were the ones actually watching and facilitating," she said.

A counselor will be hired to teach the classes using money budgeted for that purpose as well as some special education funds, Berger said.

Fitting the program into an already packed schedule will take some rearranging. The proposed changes to the sixth grade curriculum use five weeks of the year that had previously been set aside for sewing skills. In seventh grade Project ALERT would replace the four weeks of substance abuse classes already in place. In eighth grade, it would take some time from the communicable diseases lessons for a one week "booster session" to wrap up the program.

School board member Bruce Loveland said while sewing skills is a good class, he supports replacing it with Project ALERT.

"I think kids getting this kind of thing is going to be more beneficial," he said.

The plan will be formally presented to the school board at their June 30 work session.

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by email at