By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Four law enforcement vehicles including one with its blinking blue light flashing in front of McDonald's parking lot Thursday evening was not a crime scene. Instead, Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Department partnered with McDonald’s to participate in the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Days. Thursday was the first of a 3-day event. Students who wore their D.A.R.E T-Shirts were given a 10-piece Chicken McNugget meal.
"It a great motivational for children to stay off the street and do right," said Fiona Clodfelter, general manger for the Tarboro McDonald about the collaboration. "I've been in Tarboro for six months and I think the world of Tarboro kids. I've seen a lot of younger one coming up and they are improving day by day."
D.A.R.E. is a law enforcement-led series of classroom lessons taught to fifth graders to promote drug prevention and helps students avoid high-risk behavior. Edgecombe County schools that participate in the D.A.R.E program are Bullock, Carver, Coker-Wimberly, Pattillo and Princeville elementary schools. The students have recently graduated from their respective classes.
"I learned not to do drugs and how to stay out of trouble," said Jaliyah Pitt, Princeville Elementary School student.
Susana Concrerasblanco, who attends the same school said, "I think it was really good because it helped us motivate to not do drugs and make better chooses."
The D.A.R.E. program is perhaps one that is dear to Edgecombe County Sheriff's James Knight's heart. As a young deputy, Knight was a D.A.R.E. instructor. During his reign, he showed unconditionally concerns and passion for all the students. Those concerns were reflected back to him as he gained popularity among the students and their parents. Today, Knight has the same passion for the program. On Thursday he shared encouraging words or gave the students who came within arm reach to him, a pat on their backs
"A lot of time kids get a bad rap," he said. "You see and hear in the media about a kid have done something and then you acquaint all kids with that. But if you look in the middle of the newspaper, you will see hundreds of kids who are on the honor roll.
"These kids are our future," he said while looking at the handful of students that remained during the close of the event. "As long as we keep them off drugs, and support them, I feel confident that the future will be bright."
A second D.A.R.E. Day event is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Pizza Hut. Students who wear their D.A.R.E T-Shirt will receive a free personal pan pizza.
The third event, on May 11, will be the largest when all five schools gather for the 2nd annual D.A.R.E. Olympics. The schools will compete in races and other physical events. Last year Bullock won the champion.
"These events are awards for the students who go through the classes," Knight said. "We hope that they