D.A.R.E. graduation at Stewart Elementary in Lower Burrell

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Paul R. Lowes | AKVNEWS

Lower Burrell, Pa. – Lower Burrell Police Chief Tim Weitzel addressed a packed house of students, teachers, family and friends at the 20th Annual D.A.R.E. graduation class Friday afternoon at Stewart Elementary along Leechburg Road in Lower Burrell.

Chief Weitzel said the graduation of the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) students marks an achievement of the Lower Burrell Police department and their commitment to outreach towards the communities children. Thanks to Lower Burrell Detective John Marhefka, (School SRO), who has taken the program for many years with diligent efforts to educate the youth of the Lower Burrell School District and to keep the children on the right path educating them about the consequences of drug involvement.

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Chief Weitzel thanked Mr. Robert Bordonario Jr. of Hillcrest Volkswagon for their generous donation of transportation vehicles to the police department in support of the children and youth of the community. Mr. Bordonario truly has the kids best interest at heart, said Chief Weitzel.

“We’re one of the few departments in the area that still has an active D.A.R.E. program,” Marhefka says. “There was once a lot of federal money available, but that no longer is the case.” The vehicle, which has been custom decorated with D.A.R.E. branding, is the second that Hillcrest Volkswagen has provided to the police department.

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The graduation agenda included a photo slideshow, graduation certificate and readings by homeroom essay winners Dylan Pesanski, Juliana Gorsuch, Alyssa Logut, Shane Napier, Alexa Callender and Katie Armstrong. Students read their essays to the audience and talked about what they’ve learned from the D.A.R.E program. The D.A.R.E. decision making model outlines helping other people, show respect to others, make good decisions, solve problems and stay away from drugs.

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At the high school level:

Detective Marhefka noted the Burrell High School students entered a contest through the HEROIN OUTREACH PREVENTION EDUCATION initiative that is sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s. This contest was to create a PSA against the growing problem of heroin abuse. This video could be viewed on youtube.com when you go to “No One Wins with Heroin”. Burrell’s video came in first place and will receive $500.