Monday, 24 June 2024

DARE graduation celebrates making good choices

Students head toward a sheriff's SWAT van and a Lakeport Fire ladder truck. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


LAKEPORT – One hundred and fifty six fifth graders at Terrace Heights School spent part of Wednesday afternoon visiting with law enforcement and fire officials as part of a program that emphasizes staying free of drugs. {sidebar id=73}

The event, organized by the Lakeport Police Department in conjunction with Lakeport Unified School District, marked the students' graduation from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program – known as DARE.

Taught by Lakeport Police Officer Jarvis Leishman, school resource officer for Lakeport Unified School District who is completing his first year in the job, the 10-week course emphasizes creating a healthy life through healthy choices, including resisting peer pressure when it comes to drug use and violence.

Reaching middle school students with the anti-drug message is critical, said Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke. The DARE program, he added, has a great track record of helping young people stay out of trouble.

“It's OK to be just a good kid,” he told the children.

“We hope you guys realize you are a special group of kids by finishing this program,” Burke added.


He invited the children to visit the police department, and told them they could do any public safety job – fire, police, sheriff, highway patrol – that they wanted.

That's one of the program's added values, he told Lake County News: Introducing children to law enforcement, and helping them form constructive relationships with authorities.

Leishman handed out awards, including the honor of best class to Mrs. Martinez's fifth graders.

As part of the course, students write an essay. Destinee Jones won for her report on methamphetamine. (See accompanying story.)

Each student received a t-shirt, water bottle and some ice cream, which they enjoyed while sitting in the sunshine on a grassy area behind the school.

But the real treat was the chance to see local public safety officers up close and personal.

Lakeport Fire Protection District brought a ladder truck, Lakeport Sheriff's Office deputies brought a SWAT van, California Highway Patrol Officer Erica Coddington visited with the children and several Lakeport Police officers talked about their duties while police volunteers handed out goodies.

But stealing the afternoon's show was Max, Lakeport Police's K-9, an 8-year-old Malinois from the Netherlands who works with Officer Jim Bell.

Bell shared with the students about his day-to-day life working with Max, to whom he speaks in Dutch.

The eager K-9 cost the department $8,000, plus another $10,000 to train Bell to work with him. “He's a very expensive tool for the police department,” Bell said.

Max made quick work of sniffing out a plastic gun replica hidden under a rock under Bell's direction.

But more exciting for the students was when Bell set Max on fellow Officer Dale Stoebe, who was decked out in a large, padded suit. Despite the padding, officers who help with bite training still usually come away with some bruises, said Burke.

Leishman said the DARE program has been taught at Lakeport Unified for a total of six years.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke talks to students Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




Part of the afternoon was spent sitting in the sun, enjoying ice cream. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Max practices his attack on Lakeport Police Officer Dale Stoebe. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.





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