STERLING – Medals and certificates were part of the celebration by 139 fifth-graders at Washington Elementary School who graduated Monday from the school's DARE program.
Four fifth-grade classes at Washington Elementary participated in the 10-week program led by Sterling Police Officer Josh Weber.
Weber met with each class once a week for 45 minutes, during which time students learned about decision-making skills, bullying, drugs and alcohol.
At 1:30 p.m. in Washington Elementary's gymnasium, those students, dressed in matching black DARE T-shirts, lined up according to class and took a seat on the gym floor. More than 70 parents and friends surrounded them as Weber welcomed the group.
"How's everybody doing today?" Weber asked.
"Good!" the students shouted in unison.
Weber then congratulated the students for their hard work, as well as their enthusiasm.
Every time he asked a question during class, Weber said, 30 eager hands would shoot up.
At the end of the program, the students were asked to write an essay. Part report, part reflection, the essays explained what the students learned through the DARE program and tied the lessons to personal experiences. Of the essays submitted, Weber chose four winners – one from each class.
Those students then were asked to read their essays at the graduation ceremony.
And so they did.
Andy Wade read his essay first, then Christina Chattic, Hugo Huaracha and Sara Hafner. After the microphone was handed back to Officer Weber, cheers and applause echoed throughout the room as the students took their place on the floor, back among their friends.