As with most graduation ceremonies, the event began with a welcome and an introduction by Principal Danielle Donnini, who reminded the students of the benefits of positive decision making and, “to help yourself and others feel respected and safe.”
Donnini thanked and then introduced Windham Police Officer Matt Cyr. Cyr has been leading and teaching the D.A.R.E. Program for more than 17 years; working with both students and teachers in the classroom through a 10-week interactive education curriculum on the many drug, alcohol and bullying related issues that students face today.
Cyr introduced the Commencement Speaker, Chief Kevin Schofield of the Windham Police Department. Schofield, who has also taught in the D.A.R.E. Program, began his speech by thanking the families and teachers that are supportive and allow the police department to teach this program within the school.
To the students, he offered a few pieces of advice. “Don’t let this graduation be the end of your relationship with the police department,” Schofield began. “Help a friend in need, don’t bully others and consider joining a civic organization,” were words of wisdom he shared in regards to being a good citizen.
The ceremony also included the readings of nine winning D.A.R.E essays written and read by the students themselves. The nine students whose essays were chosen are: Nicholas Marion of Paulina Angus’ classroom, Levi McDonald from Cindy Moore’s classroom, Abigail Coleman from Tracey Butler’s classroom, Alejandra Hidell from John Espejo’s classroom, Landon Grover from Jennifer Ocean’s classroom, Dylan Hartwell from Kate Berry’s classroom, Mallory Muse from Judy Taudvin’s classroom, Frankie Newton from Andrea Beaulieu’s classroom, and Cole Newman from Sabrina Nickerson’s classroom.
Cyr ended the commencement ceremonies with a few last words of wisdom. He reminded parents, “We have to be the influence to show the children how to make good choices.” To the rest of the audience members, he shared advice from some of the other students. The one piece of advice he shared from one fifth-grade student was, “Sometimes you have to decide between what is right and what is easy.”
It also encourages both students and adults alike to “Be The Influence” in making positive decisions. For more information regarding D.A.R.E., check the website at www.dare.com. For more information regarding the Windham/Raymond “Be The Influence” Coalition, contact www.betheinfluencewrw.org/community_stakehold