Local News

D.A.R.E. celebration

AVON PARK - It doesn’t seem like it would work, a show with a lineup of songs including: “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Girl on Fire” and “Do the Funky Chicken.” But, it’s a mix of tunes like these that makes the annual D.A.R.E Celebration an entertaining two hours for about 900 fifth-graders. The celebration is like a variety show with singing, dancing, a band playing, play acting and more. But, mixed with the fun and entertainment, school resource officers, high school role models and others reinforce the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) message to the students.
“We are going to have fun; we are going to make noise,” declared SRO Andy Spires Tuesday morning in the South Florida State College Theatre for the Performing Arts. The students took the cue and made plenty of noise. Spires advised the students they would be hearing “public service announcements” from time to time during the morning’s program. The high school role models, two at a time for each announcement, spoke to the students about staying in school, child abuse, decision making and the We Care Hotline. The 2013 Teen Heartland Idol winner Nala Price performed “Gold” by Christian pop artist Britt Nicole. The students were familiar with the song and its positive message, including the following lyrics, “Whatever you've been told, you're worth more than gold; So hold your head up high, it's your time to shine; From the inside out it shows, you're worth more than gold.” The fifth-graders stood and waved their arms back and forth as Price sang and then gave her a rousing round of applause. Price returned later with her Idol winning song, Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire,” an empowerment anthem that fired up the students to stand up and sing along, “This girl is on fire; She is walking on fire.” A cast of law enforcement officers acted out one of the perennial dramatic highlights of the celebration, where a drug buy is interrupted by a swarm of officers/deputies and a K-9 who pounce on the bad guys as the Inner Circle song “Bad Boys” plays on the public address system. Grace Bible Church Lead Pastor Dustin Woods told the students, “You won’t reach your full potential unless you resist drugs and violence. “It will take hard work and commitment. I, Dustin Woods, today, dare you to be a difference maker.” The Avon Park High Diamond Steppers, 13 black female students, entertained with a creatively choreographed performance of stomping, clapping, dancing and chanting. The steppers involved the students with the chant, “We don’t do drugs.” It was Spires’ first time serving as master of ceremonies for the event. The deputy is based at Lake Placid Middle School and also serves Lake Placid and Lake Country elementary schools. He closed out the show singing a patriotic/spiritual medley of “God Bless America,” “God of Our Fathers” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Now where did the song “Do the Funky Chicken,” fit into all of this? Local band, “California Toe Jam,” performed the fun and fowl Rufus Thomas tune along with other dance-along and sing-along oldies such as “Do You Love Me,” and “Twist and Shout.” Lead singer, Harry Havery, said the band has been performing at the event for at least the past 10 years. “It’s one of our favorite places to play; we love the kids; we love serving the community,” he said. Havery invited another band to the celebration, “CARDINALS,” from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The three-piece Indie/folk/rock group performed two songs, including the Bill Withers standard, “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.” The D.A.R.E. program is presented once a week for nine weeks to fifth-graders during school.


(863) 386-5826