Dressed in their Daren the Lion T-shirts and sunglasses, the fifth grade students at Panther Valley Elementary Shcool held their Drug Abuse Resistance Education graduation before Christmas vacation.

Nesquehoning Police Chief Sean Smith was the DARE instructor and invited many dignitaries to the program.

One hundred and fifty two graduates listened as Panther Valley School Superintendent Rosemary Porembo told the children, "Life is about making good choices." She thanked Chief Smith for his work and went on to tell the class, "Take a little bit with you (that you learned)throughout your life."

Carbon County District Attorney told the children that he handles one thousand cases every year and 60 percentof the cases are involved with drugs and alcohol.

Nesquehoning Mayor Tony Walck said, "Do not fear the police. They are your friends."

Other guests included Summit Hill Mayor Paul McArdle, William Hunsicker, PV School Board vice president; Nesquehoning Police Officer Tom Kurtz, Assistant to the District Attorney Tim Nothstein, and Lions Club members Frank Jacobs and Jack Ritenour.

Essay winner prizes included first place two Play Station 3's, second place two bikes, third place two I-Pod Shuffles, and fourth place two U.S. Savings Bonds for $50.

The DARE program is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and cohol free lives.

Before entering the DARE program, officers undrgo hours of speicla training in areas related tot eh DARE progrm. DARE permits students to see officers in a helping role, not just an enforcement role.