To mark the end of a 17-week drug abuse resistance education program (D.A.R.E.), a graduation ceremony was held Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 15, at the Paynesville Area Elementary School.
The 17-week program helped the students recognize and resist the pressures that may influence them to experiment with tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, inhalants or other drugs. D.A.R.E. teaches students what they need to know to be assertive and able to stand up and say NO to peer pressure.
Students were taught they have rights: the right to be happy and to be treated with care and understanding; the right to be respected as a person; the right to be safe; the right to say no; the right to state what they feel and to hear what others have to say; and the right to learn.
The students were taught life-long skills such as knowing the difference between drug use and misuse, dealing with the consequences of their actions, how to say no to friendly peer pressure, teasing peer pressure, indirect peer pressure and heavy peer pressure.
The students were also exposed to positive role models from the high school. The following students came into the classrooms and helped the students with projects: Dustin Looman, Liz Hubert, Maria Wegner, Tiffany Rausch, Laura Mages, Brent Heinen, Michele Lahr, Jen Lindquist, Mary Frandson, Doug Marthaler, Jen Roberg, Dan Johnson, Mackenzie Merrill, Camille Flanders, Erin Aagesen, and Janel Schefers.
Stearns County Sheriff Jim Kostreba informed the students that Deputy Tim Kantos has been teaching the D.A.R.E. program in Stearns County six years. ďD.A.R.E. is an effective tool to fight drug abuse. It teaches decision making skills and helps students fight various forms of peer pressure,Ē he added.
Speaker Tom Keating of Monticello said Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz was the first person to use D.A.R.E. skills. She helped the lion find courage, the tinman a heart and the scarecrow a brain. As a friend, she helped them discover skills they already had.
ďDeputy Kantos has given you the courage, and knowledge to fight drugs, to make the right choices and to reach out to your friends when you are in doubt,Ē Keating said.
ďKids need help to feel significant. They need to be allowed to make choices and pay for the consequences if they make the wrong choice; they need a sense of belonging, a sense of family. Parents need to fill that void and families need to do things together, to develop lasting memories. Donít be afraid to tell your children how important they are to you,Ē Keating stressed to the parents.
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