Nicholson gets DARE program

Published 12:18 am Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Elementary school children in the Nicholson area are getting some good advice from the guy they affectionately call “Rocket”.

Sgt. Ishmael “Rocket” Quiroz is the school’s newest School Resource Officer and he will be pulling double duty as their Drug Abuse Resistance Education teacher.

Quiroz has been called “Rocket” since 1995 when he was introduced as Ishmael Rocket, a play on words harking back to former professional football player Raghib Ramadian “Rocket” Ismail.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

During his law enforcement career, Quiroz has worked as a juvenile officer with the Picayune Police Department, a school resource officer in the Pearl River County school district and in various law enforcement and investigation capacities with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department, he said. Now he has taken over the role of School Resource Officer at Nicholson Elementary where he is planning to start teaching the DARE program to sixth grade students.

His aim will be to teach children about becoming good people and why they should stay away from drugs.

“If you have to hide to do something, more than likely it’s a bad choice,” Quiroz said. “That’s the kind of things I’m going to be teaching them, showing them.”

Quiroz said this effort will be a way to try to stop drug abuse in the county by Sheriff David Allison.

“If you make a difference at this age maybe it will stop the drug abuse,” Quiroz said.

The nine-week course will do more than just tell the sixth graders to say no, it will seek to inform them about why they should say no to drugs. Instruction during the course will show the children why drugs are harmful, including cigarettes, alcohol, narcotics and huffing of household chemicals. Quiroz said if the children know things such as 400,000 deaths each year are associated with tobacco use, then that will go a lot further to deter children using it.

“Now that’s a message. When you tell them that, it goes a lot further,” Quiroz said.

Making good life choices does not only deal with saying no to drugs. Quiroz hopes the DARE decision model, which stands for Define, Assess, Respond and Evaluate, also will help children make good life choices in everything they do. That model may help the children handle bullies, peer pressure situations or any other situation where a decision must be made.

To build the bridge of trust before the children get to the DARE program, Quiroz will spend time with students in every grade, talking to them about what it means to be a better person and how to build character.

“DARE is just a small part of what I’m doing here,” Quiroz said.

Parents are a large part of a child’s life and Quiroz will have an avenue to work with the parents through his other responsibility as the community Crime Prevention Coordinator. Working in that capacity will allow him time to become involved with the parents of the area.

At the end of the program, each DARE graduate will receive a T-shirt and certificate. Incentives during the program, such as toys and medallions, will inspire the children to do their best while they learn about drugs, Quiroz said.

The Nicholson Elementary DARE program will start in January, Quiroz said.