COLUMBIANA - A former city police officer currently practicing law warned elementary students of the consequences of bad decisions Thursday.
Attorney Bob Hum, a Fairfield Township trustee, told Joshua Dixon students their dreams of becoming a teacher, police officer, firefighter, nurse or other occupation could be ruined by the decision to use drugs.
The fifth grade students were graduating from the DARE program. DARE stands for drug abuse resistance education and students were taught to define, assess, respond and evaluate, before making any major decisions.
"It's a big deal," Hum said of graduating from the program. "A lot of things you learn in this program you will use in real life."
He explained that some applications for college funding or acceptance ask about prior drug convictions.
"Bad decisions have bad consequences. You may not get money for college," he said.
To put the matter into perspective he told them of real cases he has handled as an attorney that involved drug use of some kind, like the parents who used heroin and began stealing copper wire to pay for their habit. The couple ended up in jail and their 2-year-old child was placed with someone else.
Or the truck driver who was drunk and caused an accident that claimed a life, or the mother who bought crack cocaine in Youngstown and lost custody of her baby.
Or of his own friend who was in the military and had his career ruined when he became addicted to prescription pain medication after an injury.
"You've learned it's not cool to smoke a cigarette. It's not cool to do drugs. It's not cool to get drunk. Always choose the hard right and not the easy wrong," he said.
Students spent the last 14 weeks participating in the drug prevention program taught by Detective Wade Boley of the Columbiana Police Department.
"We believe that we we are having an impact on future generations and future leaders," Police Chief Tim Gladis said.
The program teaches students good decision making skills to avoid high-risk behavior, as well as fundamental concepts of good citizenship, according to a press release.
Students Hannah Newton, Jessica Himes and Destiny Kulka read essays they wrote about the program.
"I refuse to participate in a habit that will negatively affect my future and my health," Newton said.
The American Legion Post 290 sponsored the graduation and donated more than $500 for T-shirts and certificates for the graduates.
Jason Wilson also provided free sundae gift certificates from Dairy Queen.
A reception with refreshments provided by the school's parent teacher organization was held after the ceremony. In all, about 80 students in three fifth grade classes graduated.