Ninety-five fifth grade students at L.B. Morris Elementary School in Jim Thorpe pledged to stay drug and violence free during their D.A.R.E. graduation recently.

Students and parents gathered in the gymnasium of the school to celebrate the graduates' accomplishments last Friday. Jim Thorpe Police Chief Joseph Schatz and Lt. David Midas of the Carbon County Sheriff's department, certified D.A.R.E. instructors in the Jim Thorpe Area School District, hosted the program. They both noted that they were honored to be the classes' instructors.

At the beginning of the graduation, Schatz, who has been teaching the program in the Jim Thorpe Area School District since 1999, spoke about how teaching this program is rewarding because he gets to know the students and see how they respond to it.

He noted that parents should be proud of their children for their accomplishments.

"Parents, you have great kids," he said.

Schatz thanked the community sponsors for continually supporting the D.A.R.E. program, because without the community support, he and Midas would not be able to keep the program going.

He then explained that the D.A.R.E. program allows the students to interact with law enforcement in a controlled classroom, and shows them that officers are their friends.

He ended by daring the students.

"I dare each one of you to remain drug free," Schatz said.

He then introduced Midas, his "partner in crime."

Midas thanked the school for allowing him to teach the program.

He congratulated the students on a job well done.

"You should be very proud of what you've done," he said. "You showed us positive feedback that you know there are drugs out there and that there are bullies in the community."

He told the parents in attendance that they should be proud.

"D.A.R.E. is a stepping stone," Midas said. "Students will take this stepping stone as they go into the future to become great people."

He then told students to apply the lessons they learned during the nine-week course into their everyday lives.

"Remember what D.A.R.E. has taught you and apply it every day," he said, before introducing Kissner.

Kissner explained that before becoming a judge, he was a police officer and a certified D.A.R.E. instructor.

"I believe in this program," he said. "The traits you learned here will stick with you. D.A.R.E. is a great foundation as long as you keep those lessons, you will make good decisions."

He then wished the graduates luck in their future endeavors.

Midas then introduced the three essay winners, Emily Duane, Natalie Terpstra, and Sage Hukka, who read their D.A.R.E. Reports.

The three students, who were named the essay winners of their classes, received prizes for the winning submission.

Diplomas were then given to the graduating students.

Funding for the 2012 D.A.R.E. program in the Jim Thorpe Area School District was sponsored by Kresge Electric Co., the Jim Thorpe Area School District, Jim Thorpe Police Department, Jim Thorpe Borough, and Carbon County Sheriff's Office.

The students were then treated to a pizza party lunch.