Fifth graders graduate from the D.A.R.E. program

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 1/19/99.

D.A.R.E. More than 100 fifth grade students at the Paynesville Area Elementary School took the spotlight Tuesday night. The students celebrated the completion of a 17-week D.A.R.E. course with a graduation ceremony.

D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse, Resistance Education) was taught by Stearns County Deputy Tim Kantos. ďThe students worked hard and had fun in the process,Ē Kantos said. ďThey learned to say no to negatives in their life such as peer pressure and drugs.Ē

Kantos stressed that through the D.A.R.E. program, a mutual trust is established between the law enforcement officers who talk to the students and the students.

During the D.A.R.E. program, usage and misuse of drugs was covered, consequences, eight ways to say no to drugs, assertiveness, decision making, positive support systems, and role modeling.

Fifteen high school students met with the fifth graders to talk about what they do to resist peer pressure, and the importance of staying chemically free. Role models were: Clayton Lang, Bridget Mueller, Liz Hubert, Paula Leyendecker, Travis Flanders, Tiff Rausch, Kelly Loesch, Josh Jones, Tricia Hemmesch, Mary Frandson, J.T. Koehn, Lynn Stoneburner, Camille Flanders, Ginni Lahr, and Erin Aagesen.

Elementary Principal Gary Heineman congratulated the students on completing the program. ďWe often hear about the downfall of youngsters who make poor decisions. Many things need to be considered in making good decisions. The decisions they make can easily be affected by what their peers say, an acquaintance, or a parent. The D.A.R.E. program provides the ammunition to know and understand what makes good decisions,Ē Heineman added.

Rick Rassier, a teacher at Foley, demonstrated his volleyball playing skills to the students and those in attendance. He is a member of Jumpiní Up With Mighty Power, which stresses the need to stay chemically free to students. In his seven years of playing volleyball, he hasnít lost a game yet. He was a one-man team taking on members of the school faculty, and law officers in attendance.

Rassier told the students that several years ago he was in a car accident. He had just purchased a new car and only had seven miles on it. ďI learned a lot about self-esteem following the accident. My self-esteem was based on my playing volleyball. I didnít like what I saw. I quit playing volleyball for three years before joining Jumpiní Up With Mighty Power,Ē Rassier told the students.

Rassier showed the students pictures of his family. ďVery few young people talk about their family in a positive manner. Family is important to what you become. Parents have a powerful impact on the choices you make,Ē he added.

ďOftentimes parents tell their youngsters one thing, then turn around and smoke and drink themselves. That is presenting a mixed message to our kids.

The best choice a person can make is not to use dangerous drugs. The most dangerous drugs on the market today are cigarettes and alcohol.

Rassier stressed that the D.A.R.E. program makes kids see alcohol as a drug. ďBefore youngsters are 18, they will see 100,000 commercials stating that if they use cigarettes and alcohol you will have more fun, more friends, and fit in with the popular crowd. What the media doesnít show are the consequences of drinking and driving. The reality of their consequences is usually a fatal accident,Ē he said.

ďNobody ever plans on being an alcoholic. It just starts with the first drink,Ē Rassier said. ďThere are all kinds of people in this world who are living a chemically free life. They made the choice not to use,Ē Rassier concluded.

Lien is a state winner
Caitlin Lien was presented with a D.A.R.E. jacket during the graduation ceremony.

A statewide contest was held to name a new D.A.R.E. newsletter. Lien submitted the winning entry. The newsletter will now be called D.A.R.E. Talk.

Lien is the daughter of Ray and Lonny Lien, Paynesville.

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