Back in action: D.A.R.E. will return to Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School in January 2020

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Lt. Mark Davis with the Upshur County Sheriff's Department

BUCKHANNON – The new D.A.R.E. program will begin in Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School in January 2020.

Lt. Mark Davis gave an update on the new D.A.R.E. – or Drug Abuse Resistance Education –program at Thursday’s Upshur County Commission meeting.

“About a year and a half ago, Sheriff Coffman and I began to discuss about bringing the D.A.R.E program back into the school system because of the need for education of young people to make good decisions regarding drug and alcohol abuse and awareness, and this has been a program that our county had in the past,” Davis said.

It has been about a 17-year gap since the previous D.A.R.E. program was in effect in Upshur County, but Davis said they saw a need to bring it back.

“We want to bring it back because we see the need,” Davis said. “We have an officer in our department, Crystal Linger, who agreed to become a D.A.R.E. officer and with her agreeing to do that, the Family Resource Network in Harrison County and Elizabeth Shahan were a big help to get on board with us. We were able to send Crystal to Maryland for her training, which she successfully completed and did an excellent job.”

Officer Crystal Linger with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department has been certified to be a D.A.R.E. educator.

The executive director of the Harrison County Family Resource Network Elizabeth Shahan said they are in process of changing their name to West Virginia Prevention Solutions.

“We’ve changed a little bit because we no longer cover just Harrison County. We cover 13 counties in North Central West Virginia, and we’re one of six prevention lead organizations in the state covering all 55 counties,” Shahan said.

She said they are federally funded through the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration.

“Anytime there’s an opportunity to engage with partners in any community that we are engaged with, in any of our counties, we are able to allocate those federal dollars down to the grassroots level and communities to meet needs,” Shahan said. “As long as the evidence is there that supports the program, and it’s an evidence-based program or that it’s an evidence-based strategy, we help them do it.”

“We were glad to be part of Upshur county and making things happen,” she said.

Davis said now that all the training is complete, and the sheriff’s office has received all the materials, they expect the program to start in January 2020.

“We will be ready to launch the D.A.R.E. program in the sixth-grade level of the middle school,” Davis said. “The Board of Education has been very cooperative and behind us in doing this and they’re on board with us completely. They’ve been helping us with everything to get the scheduling done and have done everything that they can possibly do to make this happen.”

The program will be 10 weeks long, and Linger said the goal is to have the sixth-grade course materials covered by the end of April.

“Our goal is to teach kids about making good choices and about having a positive interaction with law enforcement,” Linger said. “With these lessons, the students will learn how to practice tough, practical decision-making activities with other students. They’ll learn how to do that for themselves. There’s is 10 lessons, and my goal was to have everything taught by the end of April, and I’ll have about 43 kids per class.”

To read about D.A.R.E.’s updated program, click here.