St. Joseph’s student wins 2023 D.A.R.E. essay contest

A St. Joseph’s Catholic School student has been named the 2023 Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) essay winner by the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, said Sheriff Steve Prator.

Vera John’s winning essay was selected from among those written by fifth-grade students at all 12 elementary schools where the Sheriff’s Office teaches the D.A.R.E. curriculum. The students are required to write an essay when they complete the program. Her essay was also selected to compete against other essays in District 1.

CPSO Cpl. Felisa Leary, who teaches the D.A.R.E. curriculum at St. Joseph’s, and SPD Sergeant Jason Jones, who serves as the District 1 president for the Northwest Louisiana D.A.R.E. Officers’ Association, presented John with a Certificate of Achievement and $50 cash prize.

The Sheriff’s Office teaches D.A.R.E. to nearly 3,800 kindergartens through fifth-grade students in 12 Caddo Parish Schools. The goal of each D.A.R.E. officer is to ensure that every student who graduates from the program receives the knowledge and skills needed to make healthy choices and decisions.

The program was first introduced in rural Caddo Parish schools by Sheriff Don Hathaway in 1990. A new elementary curriculum titled “Keepin’ It Real” debuted in those schools in 2013 under Sheriff Prator’s leadership.