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Middle schoolers help fifth graders buy T-shirts
ap DareGroup Posed
The TCE student council proudly display their long-awaited DARE t-shirts. (l-r) DARE/GREAT officer James Shaver, Nick Rorro, Angel Brown, Jhanee O'Neal, Sontaja Gordon, Katlyn Scott and fifth grade teacher Dwayne Herring - photo by Photo by Alena Parker.
Sixth-graders at Lewis Frasier Middle School recently reached a helping hand back to the grade below by raising enough money for the younger students to get their reward for graduating from the DARE program.
After completing ten weeks of instruction, study and practical application, fifth-grade students at Taylor's Creek Elementary have been waiting since their December DARE graduation to receive official DARE graduate T-shirts.
Lack of funding caused the delay.
When the LFMS sixth-grade students learned of the shortage, they decided to raise enough money to buy shirts for the TCE fifth-graders.
The fundraiser became the class project the sixth-graders needed to graduate from the GREAT program, the follow-up to DARE that focuses on gang problems.
DARE/GREAT resource officer James Shaver surprised the TCE students in their classrooms May 21 with the shirts and an explanation.
"(For) Their class project, they decided to raise money to buy you guys T-shirts," Shaver said of the LFMS sixth-graders.
By giving $1 each, the LFMS students were able to meet their fundraising goal.
"I actually had a couple people say, 'Let me give $20'," Shaver said.
The fifth-graders cheered and clapped after Shaver shared the news, and a few mentioned they will be attending LFMS next year.
Sontaja Gordon, TCE student council president, said it meant a lot to know older students went out of their way to make sure the DARE graduates received their T-shirts. She referred to the example of generosity as "unforgettable."
"Since they're in sixth grade, they just kind of understand how it feels since we got our shirts really, really late," she said.
Gordon said the DARE program was "awesome."
"It's teaching kids not to do things ... and they can have their own choices," she said.
"It's not just trying to change (students') ways. It's more than that," she explained. "They're trying to build our future, our self-confidence."
The nationally renowned Drug Abuse Resistance Education program takes the drug-abuse prevention initiative into the schools to help children resist the negative social pressures they may face to abuse drugs.
In addition to gang awareness, the Gang Resistance Education and Training program, GREAT, teaches life skills, such as learning to "think before you do certain things, could be about gangs, could be about drugs, could be about anything," according to Shaver.
Before school let out for the summer, the fifth-graders wrote thank-you notes to the middle school students.

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