Runnels School fifth-graders were honored Jan. 12 for the completion of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program at a graduation ceremony in the Gladys Hague Runnels Theater.

Presiding over the event was Capt. Randy Aguillard, of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the D.A.R.E. instructor at Runnels for more than 20 years.

Winning the D.A.R.E essay contest were students Katie Carpenter, Elisabeth Dardar, Blaine Nicholson and Cooper Smither. The students read their essays onstage and were presented with D.A.R.E. essay winner pins and certificates.

Elisabeth was named first-place winner and received the D.A.R.E. essay contest medal. Each fifth-grader received a certificate of completion for the course, a D.A.R.E. pencil case and T-shirt.

The aim of the one-semester D.A.R.E. course is to teach students to use good decision-making skills to lead safe and healthy lives, a news release said.

At the graduation ceremony, Aguillard praised parents and relatives in the audience for showing support for the students. He also encouraged parents to stay focused on their kids.

“You’ve got to know what they’re doing and have communication with them,” he said. “They want you to be involved in their lives. They just don’t say it now.”