Guest speaker for the evening was John Stanoch, chief deputy officer under Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch.
Stanoch asked the students how many of them thought the D.A.R.E. program was a good thing. The students raised their hands in unison. He then asked the same question of the audience. They, too, raised their hands in agreement.
Prior to working with the attorney general, Stanoch was a judge for eight years. "I have dealt with kids and families having a hard time. They experienced drugs and alcohol which led to bad times. I have seen families in pain, thinking about choices," Stanoch said.
Stanoch added, "Young people need to know adults care about them, if you are ever in doubt about something, talk with a parent, teacher, or principal. There are grown-ups all around you that will help out in bad times and good. As adults we need to care about children, not only our own children, but the children in the neighborhood whom your children play with."
Stanoch talked about the need for children to make good choices. "Grown-ups do care and want to help you. Just give them a chance," he said.
"D.A.R.E (drug awareness resistance education) is a lifelong learning program," Stearns County Sheriff Deputy Tim Kantos said.
"D.A.R.E. is a positive program for children taught in 51 countries. It brings young people and law enforcement officers together as part of the 17-week course," Kantos added.
Topics covered by the program are drug use and misuse, peer pressure, avoiding violence, assertiveness, being respectful to others, avoiding stress, decision making, risk taking, and building self-esteem.
"Nothing works unless you have parental concern. The turnout tonight, shows parents in the Paynesville area care about their children," Kantos said.
Todd Burlingame, elementary principal, emphasized that children need to keep the lines of communication open with their parents. "D.A.R.E. is a program about choices. Young people will be facing choices all the time. No matter what you have done, don't be afraid to talk to an adult, be it your parent or teacher," he added.
Following Stanoch's message, several students read their D.A.R.E. essays for the audience. Reading essays were: Chelsey Kalkbrenner, Erica Guerts, Cody Burr, Dugan Flanders, Kaila Hartmann, Ellary Prentice, Kayla Rohe, and Amber Gray.
The fifth grade students performed "I Will D.A.R.E." under the direction of Cheryl Bungum.
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