Dare to be your best

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 25, 2007

With a cafeteria full of fifth and sixth grade students and teachers at Greenville Middle School, the atmosphere was one of celebration and of sadness.

That's what happens when one person touches so many lives.

On Thursday, Jan. 18, a special ceremony was given for D.A.R.E. Officer Lamar Grayson in honor of his retirement from the Greenville Police Department.

He first began working with the D.A.R.E. Program within the schools in Butler County in 1990.

&#8220We are here today to celebrate a long and wonderful career of one of our family members,” GMS Principal Jai Hill said. &#8220Officer Grayson has educated literally thousands of students.”

Eighth grader Cortnee Meyers said that through the D.A.R.E. classes, Grayson had taught her how to overcome peer pressure and, most importantly, how to set goals in her life.

Raymond Moody, who is also in the eighth grade at GMS, said that Grayson has been &#8220a wonderful person here at school,” while teaching them how drugs and alcohol are harmful to their bodies and minds, and how people who offered drugs to them are &#8220not really our friends.”

&#8220Not only is he an officer of the law, he is also a great teacher, and we are going to miss him,” Moody said.

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon smiled as he told the crowd that it was hard for him to call him &#8220Officer Grayson.”

&#8220When he and I were your age, we played Little League baseball together,” McLendon said, laughing. &#8220Lamar, it's been a great pleasure working together and getting older togetherŠI'm respectful of who you are and of what you have doneŠYou know that I knew your dad, so let me just say that your dad would be very proud of you.”

Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram agreed with McLendon's sentiments, adding that he and Grayson, too, had &#8220come up together.”

&#8220I have pictures of when we were both slim and had dark hair,” Ingram said, smiling.

He said that Grayson had done an outstanding job for many years and that he wished him the best in the future.

&#8220You know, Officer Grayson has always done the D.A.R.E. booth at the Butler County Fair, and students and their parents would stop by to see himŠ.parents he had taught when they were in schoolŠthat's how long he's been doing this.”

The students and teachers presented Grayson with a plaque of appreciation, several signed cards and poems, gift cards, and a special D.A.R.E. &#8220question box” surprise from the students. Also, GMS teacher Jo Shephard read a special poem written for Grayson by GMS teacher Greta Whiddon. Both teach fifth grade at the school.

&#8220You are what it's all about,” an emotional Grayson told the students. &#8220I won't forget you. I love all of you.”

Rep. Charles Newton, Lt. Anthony Barganier, GMS School Resource Officer Jennifer Thomason and Grayson's wife Helga also joined GMS administrators, faculty and staff for the ceremony.