Program teaches studentsto eschew drugs and violence


By:Mary Ellen Zangara
   The annual Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education (DARE) graduations for students in Manville took place last week in two of the schools. More than 100 fifth-graders in Roosevelt School and 13 students from Christ the King all completed their program in DARE.
   Sponsored by the Manville Police Department and Somerset County, the program has been in Manville since 1990 and Officer Jim Paterno was the instructor for the program. Officer Jim, as he is known to the children, helped the students learn not to use drugs.
   As a 17-week course, DARE is a substance abuse prevention program which teaches students skills that help them resist peer pressure which may lead them to experiment with drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
   Joining Officer Jim for the graduations were teachers, students from the school and their parents as well as other guests. Principal Fred Volpi welcomed everyone to the graduation with Officer Jim introducing the guests.
   The visitor’s list included Police Chief John Petrovic, Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest, Lt. Jack Bennet from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, Dr. Francis X. Heelan, Superintendent of Manville schools, Dr. David Livingston, county superintendent, Dr. Jim Brunn, principal of Alexander Batchco Intermediate School, Terrence Fitzpatrick, Manville High School principal, and Manville Borough Safety Commissioner Susan Asher. All came to lend their support for the program and congratulate the students.
   Mr. Livingston spoke briefly saying, "What is in your heart, you learned from Officer Jim and your parents and you will not forget what you have learned. You have the opportunity to learn what drugs can do and can say no."
   Mr. Forrest also praised the students and wanted to give them "one quick lesson and message."
   "You have to remember: ‘Not even once’ — the most important thing you learn in school is in the DARE program," he said, referring to not trying and using drugs or alcohol. "Officer Jim taught you about choices, right choices, wrong choices and how to make a choice. We need you to be successful and have your dreams come true."
   There were a few contests in the program and the winners from each class were announced. One of the contests was an essay contest on "Taking a Stand" against drugs and violence. The winners read their essays during the program and each received a $50 savings bond from the Manville PBA.
   Stephanie Tarnovetchi’s essay read, "The DARE program is a great program. It helps children deal with peer pressure, being asked to smoke, and making better decisions for themselves. This program does not just help fifth graders who are involved in it, but it helps everyone else, too. Fifth graders these days need to get ready for the challenges of 6th grade and middle school. In DARE, I’ve learned how bullies usually have low self-esteem and take it out on other people to feel better.
   "Another thing I have learned in DARE is that the media promotes the use of tobacco and alcoholic beverages to young adults. Also, drugs are dangerous no matter how innocent they seem and how good the feel in your body.
   "I feel that is important to stay drug and violence free. I feel this way because drugs and violence can ruin people’s lives. These things can ruin a family relationship and can even kill you! The world would be a better without these things. Without violence, there would be no wars. Without drugs, there would be more people living in this world today. This is why I believe it is important to stay drug and violence free."
   Other winners included Nathaly Gonzalez, Jackie Duran and Amanda Furka. The essay winner from Christ the King School was John Paul Loebs.
   Another contest was a sticker contest, in which Officer Jim would ask several questions about the DARE lessons each week during the program, awarding a sticker for each correct answer. The student with the most stickers at the end of the program won. Angela Vinchur, Megan Janes, Amanda Guididas, Kevin Sellar from Roosevelt School and K.J. Seidar from Christ the King, answered the most questions and were presented with a DARE jacket of behalf of the Manville Police Department.
   The last contest was a poster contest and the team of winners all received DARE sweatshirts. All the students submitted an anti-drug or anti-violence poster from each class. Winning teams included Evanna Tchir and Ryan McKee; Vincent Montone and Shannon Bowling; Heather Armstrong and Lauren Darabant; and Holly Macinkiewicz and Amanda Forrestal. Poster winner from Christ the King was Brendan Amos.
   After the contest winners were recognized, all of the fifth grade students put on skits role playing their lessons. Certificates were then presented to each student for successfully completing the program. Officer Jim was joined the classroom teachers and guests to congratulate the students on stage. A slide show was also presented at the conclusion of the program with the students in different environments throughout the course.
   In addition to the police department and the Prosecutors Office, the following people and organizations were a part of supporting the DARE program. Among those cited were Lt. Peltack, Detective Sgt. Mark Sniscak, Gayle Whitenight, Kris Bujalski, Mayor Angelo Corradino, Manville Borough Council, Manville PBA #236, VFW Post 2290 and Ladies Auxiliary, Manville Maintenance, and the fifth-grade teachers, students and parents.