Barry McCaffrey, the Clinton administration's new drug czar, reemphasized the importance of prevention during commencement exercises for an anti-drug program at Fair Avenue Elementary School in North Hollywood on Thursday.
In his second day in California to promote the president's revamped war on drugs, the retired Army general encouraged more than 60 students graduating from a DARE drug education program at the school to believe in themselves when tempted by narcotics or alcohol. He also urged their parents to serve as role models to dissuade the fifth- and sixth-graders from abusing those substances.
"Your participation in this program after 17 weeks is a wonderful statement about yourselves," McCaffrey told the students. "When you look at the people you admire . . . most of us understand that abusing drugs destroys your life. It isn't enough to have the DARE program alone. The parents are the ones who count."
Students, meanwhile, said they were impressed by McCaffrey.
"It felt good to me for him to come to our school and give us this time because it made me think that we really did something good," said 12-year-old Esmeralda Argueta, who presented McCaffrey with a school sweatshirt and framed poster of the school's latest crop of DARE graduates.