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Walker fifth-graders graduate C.H.A.M.P.S.
Julizabeth Ortiz, Mackenzie Matthews, Tanner Benton, Mackenzie McFarland and Makayla Gaulding won the poster and essay contest. Not pictured is Deliscas Saenz. - photo by Patty Leon

Roughly 250 Walker Elementary School fifth graders graduated their 10-week Choosing Healthy Activities Promoting Safety program Friday morning. The graduation ceremony was held at Long County Middle School’s gymnasium.

During the graduation ceremony Cpl. David Hicks with the Bryan Count Sheriff’s Office talked to the children about the important lessons they learned from their C.H.A.M.P.S teacher Long County Deputy Diannia Duncan.

Hicks reminded the children and the parents in attendance that each day they are forced to make decisions.

“With every choice you make there is a consequence to it,” he said, noting there are times when those consequences come quickly, such as touching something hot and getting burned. “And sometimes consequences don’t come right away, sometimes they come later on down the road. … That is the whole thing about choices and making them and we’ve all learned that if sometimes you just take like 10 seconds and think about you are about to say or do, a lot of times we end up doing the right thing.”

Hicks said C.H.A.M.P.S. was brought into the Long County School System by Sheriff Craig Nobles and added that it is a great program that prepares younger students to learn valuable life lesson as they prepare to enter middle school and high school.

Duncan agreed, saying the kids learned about peer pressure, bullying, the dangers of drugs and alcohol, gangs, violence, Internet safety, hunting and firearm safety, all-terrain vehicle safety, car safety and water and boating safety.

Duncan said that “seeing the kids come up and acknowledge they learned something” was just one of the reasons she enjoyed teaching the program. She added that she also learned a few things herself from the experts who were brought in to teach certain topics. She said the bonus was the bond developed between the kids and the law-enforcement community she represents while instructing the course.

Hicks reminded the graduates that next year they enter middle school and may see or experience peer pressure. He reminded them of the lessons they learned and to stay focused on making the right decisions.

Nobles reminded the students that school was about to let out for the summer and making right decisions included their outdoor activities.

“Your safety is what is important to us,” he said. “We are fixing on heading out for summer break and we want to keep you all safe and healthy and have you return the same way you left. Make good choices. …Stay away from drugs, always wear your seat belts, always wear a helmet when you ride a four-wheeler. … If you go swimming, go with an adult present and don’t go jumping or diving headfirst into the borrow pits. … Always be safety-conscious.”

Nobles then reminded the parents that Internet predators and cyberbullying are real threats to children. He said parents should monitor their child’s cellphone and laptop.

All the graduates were given certificates. Afterward, prizes were handed out to the winners of the poster and essay contest that was part of the course. Duncan then presented the C.H.A.M.P.S. Student of the Year award to Makayla Gaulding.

Other awards

Poster winners
First: Julizabeth Ortiz
Second: Gaulding
Third: Mackenzie Matthews

Essay winners
First: Tanner Benton
Second: Deliscas Saenz
Third: Mackenzie McFarland

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