"You shouldn't bully people, it can hurt them, especially if you do it physically, but emotionally isn't any better. Some people even commit suicide because of bullying. Treat others the way you would like to be treated because I know you wouldn't want to be hurt by someone."
Those wise and important words were written by Sarah Kate Tidwell of Tunnel Hill Elementary, who had the winning essay for 2021 in the DARE essay contest, judged best out of approximately 1,000 essays written by fifth-graders from 13 Whitfield County schools. The complete essay is reprinted in today's newspaper. It is worth your time.
DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education but it might just as easily stand for dare to be different, to do the right things, because that is what the DARE program has been promoting for all these many years to our area's youth.
"I have a little brother and I want to show him the best role model I can be because I want him to make good choices," Shayla Williams of Varnell Elementary wrote in the 2020 winning DARE essay. "I've also learned that you have to choose your friends wisely because some of the things they do can be dangerous or their decisions they make are bad and they can peer pressure you to do things that you don't want to do like smoking, doing drugs, drinking or being mean to other people. Life is all about making good decisions, when we make bad decisions it can lead to bad situations like going to jail or, worse, prison."
It is clear these youngsters have learned valuable lessons through the DARE program. That is a great thing. It all contributes to a better community, a better society, a better place for us to live and work and enjoy our country's freedoms.
We commend these students and the others honored during the annual DARE essay recognition program sponsored by the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office and the Kiwanis Club of Dalton that was held at the Dalton Convention Center. There were also second and third place students recognized as well as individual winners from each school.
We also commend the men and women of the DARE program who provide these valuable life lessons to the students. Sheriff Scott Chitwood said in 2019 that since its inception in 1989, the DARE program was "knocking on the door" of reaching 30,000 students during the past 30 years, and now many more have been reached.
That is a wonderful achievement.