Elementary Students Receive Awards for Top DREAM Essays
Three San Angelo elementary students were awarded for their essay writing excellence on Wednesday, when they were formally awarded first, second and third place prizes in the twice annual Drug Resistance Education And Mentoring (DREAM) Essay Writing Contest.
Over 500 students submitted essays for the contest this semester, and San Angelo Police DREAM Officer Erica Morris said it was no easy task choosing, having spent roughly three days reading through the stack of papers with fellow DREAM Officer Rodrigo Hernandez.
Hernandez and Morris then selected 22 first place winners—one for each class of students taught in the program this semester—and submitted those to Assistant Police Chief Jeff Fant for final selection.
This semester, two girls and one boy took the top three prizes in the contest, first place going to Goliad Elementary’s Jacoby Sosa. Jordan Harris of Bonham Elementary and Kira Porras of Glenmore Elementary won second and third place this year.
The students had the option of writing about any of the subjects covered in the program this semester, Morris explained, ranging from bullying and peer pressure to alcohol and drug abuse, marijuana and inhalants.
First prize winner Jacoby Sosa chose to include three topics in his essay, including reasons to not take drugs, advice for victims of bullying and peer pressure. ‘Those were the things that I saw when I was younger,” Sosa said. He said it can be hard to be at school with all of the peer pressure and bullying.
For his entry, Sosa, 11, won a Kindle Fire HD and a meal at Chili’s. His first download, he said, will be the book “Hook”. He said he plans on taking his family and his uncle to dinner with him at Chili’s when he gets his free meal.
Sosa’s uncle, Jeremy Dehoyos, said he was very proud of his nephew and the essay he wrote. “He showed me the other day when he was at the house. It was good,” he said.
Jordan Harris, who won second place in the contest, said she had fun in the program and chose to write her article about everything covered by Officer Hernandez. Harris won an mp3 player, headphones and a meal at Chili’s for her essay.
“I’m extremely proud. It’s great, it’s really exciting,” Harris’ mother Gretchen said. “I think she learned a lot and that’s really beneficial to us in the long run.”
Harris said her daughter frequently came home from school and excitedly told her about what she’d learned from the DREAM program.
Bill Potter, Jordan Harris’ grandfather, said he was proud, too. Potter is a substitute teacher in Brady. “I think the things that they’re teaching are very cutting edge,” Potter said of the program. “I’m going to try and get it in Brady.”
Speaking to a room filled with families, officers and SAISD principles, Police Chief Tim Vasquez introduced the DREAM program, commending his officers on a job well done in working with the approximately 1,200 children that go through the program each year.
“There’s always been controversy on whether these programs work…but we’ve always felt here at the San Angelo Police Department that any positive interaction that the police can have with children—especially in an educational atmosphere—is a great thing,” Chief Vasquez said.
In the past, the SAPD offered a DARE program that followed a precise lesson plan nationwide. Vasquez said DREAM was implemented a couple of years ago when the department saw the need for something they could customize to the oasis of San Angelo and the issues relevant in our community.
DREAM is a 12-week program that meets in each class once a week with a different lesson. Officer Erica Morris said the goal of the program is “to give the students the tools to make the right choices…know what substances look and what they’ll do to their body…ways to say no, and how to report bullying.”
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