The Santa Barbara Police Department will hold a D.A.R.E. graduation at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St., for more than 300 fifth- and sixth-grade students from seven local elementary schools.

D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. More than 20,000 local students have graduated from the program since 1987.

In addition to drug and alcohol education, the D.A.R.E. curriculum teaches responsibility and making good choices.

Officer Anita Chamberlain conducted the training and interacted with each student. She was a role model and promoted a positive view of law enforcement. This will be Chamberlain’s final D.A.R.E. graduation. On the same date she will retire after 25 years of service to the community. Chamberlain will be the first female officer to retire from the Santa Barbara department.

As a graduation requirement, each student writes an essay explaining what they have learned. The essays are judged and winners are chosen from each class and school. The winners are:

Cleveland Elementary

» School Winner: Daniel Reyes
» Class Winner: Daniela Jimenez
» Class Winner: Yessenia Chavez

El Montecito

» School Winner: Mallory Sestak
» Class Winner: Kevin Wills

Franklin Elementary

» School Winner: Viridiana Barrera
» Class Winner: Jacqueline Ramirez
» Class Winner: Fernando Rivera
» Class Winner: Perla Sandoval

Hope Elementary

» School Winner: Sam Haj
» Class Winner: Bryan Sheets
» Class Winner: Chase Murphy

Monroe Elementary

» School Winner: Ben Cable
» Class Winner: Allison Rich
» Class Winner: Rafael Saavedra

Monte Vista Elementary

» School Winner: Ayden Klock
» Class Winner: Grace Gau
» Class Winner: Maya Eastman

Santa Barbara Community Academy

» School Winner: Arianna Sanchez
» Class Winner: Brian Nnoli

The Santa Barbara High School Jazz Band will provide music to this free public event. Please join us in welcoming these D.A.R.E. students at their graduation celebration.

— Paul McCaffrey is a lieutenant with the Santa Barbara Police Department.