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Heritage fifth-graders graduate ‘Too Good for Drugs’

Fifth-grader Christian Brooks pledged never to drink or smoke. Maddie Barnes discovered “tobacco products can rot out your teeth.” Christian and Maddie are two of 120 graduates of “Too Good for Drugs” at Heritage Elementary School.

Officer Ed Sasan congraulates "Too Good for Drugs" graduates, from left, Mary Caton Davidson, Sarah Bryan, Charlotte Bigelow, Maddie Barnes and Carsen Clift. The girls were dressed for Wacky Day at Heritage. (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Shelton)

Officer Edward Sasan with Madison Police Department presided at graduation on Oct. 26. Sasan serves as Heritage’s school resource officer.

Too Good for Drugs taught fifth-graders about goal setting, decision making, communication, peer pressure refusal and awareness of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, Sasan said.

In presenting the program, Sasan had a two-fold role. “I’m an educator/police officer to let them know that their choices have consequences. Two, I’m a mentor to every child.”

“I tell them my past experiences and how I overcame adversity. Drug prevention comes down to letting children have basic knowledge of what marijuana and prescription pills are. Both are the gateway to more dangerous drugs,” Sasan said.

The most important point for parents is allowing their children to talk about anything. “Children are more educated (about) drugs due to technology,” he said. Peer pressure is a major factor because “they believe in their friends. Children don’t like being out of the group.” With the program, parents are proactive, giving children a better understanding of substances.

Graduation coincidentally occurred with Red Ribbon Week. “The timing was perfect,” lead teacher Lindsay Shelton said about completing the six-week program.

Fifth-grader Charlotte Bigelow said she “learned many important things that will help for the future. People are going to pressure you into taking drugs. You should always, no matter what, say no to drugs.” Alanna Pendergrass learned negative effects of drugs and alcohol.

The program was “a fantastic way to learn about things you might not learn without Officer Sasan,” Colin Beyersdorf said. Carsen Clift described the program as “awesome. I learned what drugs I should not do and what choices to make.”

Mary Caton Davidson learned “how bad drugs can hurt your body … how it can kill you and stuff. Most importantly, I learned I’m too good for drugs.”

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