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D.A.R.E. culmination ceremony Thursday
RUMFORD -- The Rumford Police Department is celebrating the 23rd year and 24th culmination of D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) at 6 p.m. this Thursday in the Muskie Auditorium at the Mountain Valley High School.
DARE educates fifth grade students of the dangers of drugs and violence. Instructing the program is Sgt. Doug Maifeld. Sgt. Tracey Higley decided to take a break this year, but will help Maifield the night of the graduation.
Maifeld taught four classes this year, two in Meroby and two at Rumford Elementary. Holy Savior had limited students, therefore, both 5th and 6th will be taught next year as they did last year.
"I am extremely proud of our program and its longevity. I believe my love and passion for the program helps," he noted.
Maifeld said, "My enjoyment of teaching the youth year after year and hearing in their essays how much they enjoyed me and the program keeps me and the program going. I hear many thanks from parents during the year, in the store and on the street and especially after the graduation ceremony. My reward is seeing their smiling faces every week I show up at the school. They are excited to see me and that's all the motivation I need."
Core subject areas include Bullying, Violence, Tobacco, Alcohol, Marijuana and Inhalants, Peer Pressure, Responding Confident and Assertive, Self Esteem and Violence.
Maifeld said he certainly wished there was a middle or high school program to reinforce the lessons learned from the DARE program, but time and money have proven to be roadblocks.
"Our DARE program is funded strictly from donations. The Town of Rumford makes it possible for me going into the schools and I appreciate it. However, no taxpayer money is budgeted for the program. We have done fundraisers over the years. We receive money from suspects in drug cases, money from the Elks and Eagles most years and the Mexico Police Department budgets $500 a year for supplies for the program," he said.
Maifield said, "I know they keep the information I teach them as I see my students throughout their lives. Many of the students I remained in contact through my years coaching at the GRCC and my daughter's sporting events. Even though we don't have the reinforcement in middle and high school that I would like, I still hope they get the support from home. We need the parents to continue their reinforcement of the material I taught them. DARE works on a triangle -- police, school and parents. I know they continue to get educated through health class of the dangers, plus our no tolerance enforcement of underage drinking in the communtiy. The rest is up to their parents."
This year's guest speaker will be Walter Abbott, a part-time Rumford resident and retired professor and for athletic director at the Univ. of Maine at Orono.
Maifeld noted that Abbott was his daughter's advisor at the Univ. of Maine during her freshman year.
"She became good friends with him and remained so after his retirement this past year. She told me about a conversation he had with her. He asked her about her alcohol use. She informed him she has never drank and he said 'me neither' and gave her a high five. He asked her about drugs. She said she has never tried drugs he again said 'me neither' and gave her a high five. Lastly, he asked her about coffee; she told him she couldn't say no to that. He said 'no high five for you' on that one."
"I thought this was an awesome conversation and if he had gone his entire life drug and alcohol free, who else better to talk to my students about how successful you can be without drugs. He was honored to accept my invite and come home to talk. I don't know exactly what he will talk about, but I am sure it will be positive," said Maifeld.
As is the tradition, students wrote DARE essays. Four will be reading their winning essays. They are Jacob Sinclair from Greg Parr's class at Meroby, Hailey Akers from Jessica Sirois' class at Meroby, and from Rumford Elementary School, Ashlynn Conley from Mrs. Blank's class, and Abbie Blauvelt from Ms. Halacy's class.
"This is my 18th year of DARE, personally. I feel every day I step into a classroom I have the same love of it as the first time. For that I thank my DARE Students. Every week they enjoy my fun and unpredictable way of teaching the material thus making it an enjoy teaching it," said Maifeld.