Principal Elyse Baerga started the program off by congratulating the students on graduating from the D.A.R.E. program, stating students learned important life lessons they'll be able to use in life.
"It's also important because you're building a relationship with a local hero, because that's what police officers are every day," Baerga said.
Smyrna Police officers and school resource officers Garr Owens and Evans Leighty were this year's D.A.R.E. officers.
Police Chief Wil Bordley, Lt. Norman Wood, Smyrna School District Superintendent Debbie Wicks, and Assistant Superintendent Patrik Williams were in attendance at the graduation.
Officer Owens said the D.A.R.E. program is making a difference and there's research to prove its worth. He told the students the skills they've learned in D.A.R.E. have equipped them to make the right decision to resists drugs and alcohol when the students find themselves in such a situation.
Officer Leighty thanked Chief Bordley and Lt. Wood for the opportunity to work in the schools: "It's a pleasure and a honor to be a resource officer for the school district," he said.
Leighty also thanked the students for making his first year teaching fun.
Each student received a certificate for graduating from the program. The graduating classes were Mrs. Hoye and Mrs. Stevenson; Mrs. McGowan, Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Selby; Mrs. Deisem and Mr. Matthews; Mr. Wetherall and Ms. Zamudio; and Mr. McGuigan.
A few select students were also awarded for their D.A.R.E. essays. The point of the essay was for students to write about their commitment to the program and what they learned.
Baerga said one person from each class was chosen as an essay winner, with a couple of classes having a tie for the best essay. The essay winners from the classes were Justus Lauro, Tanaya Wilson, Daniel Saamoi, Olivia Reynolds, Mickenzie Matarese, Jaylyn Thomas, Kemuel Mims, and Abigail Conway.
Two students stood out for having phenomenal essays. Nigee Newson was the runner up for best overall essay, while Jackson Reynolds was chosen for writing the best overall D.A.R.E. essay.