Sixth-graders DARE to graduate
Ninety-seven Tonganoxie sixth-grade students are now wiser to the world.
Last Wednesday, Connie Anderson, an officer with the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Department and the county's Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer, officiated at the school's DARE graduation ceremony.
The ceremony wrapped up 16 weeks of study for the students. Lessons, Anderson explained, dealt with issues such as making choices, peer pressure, self-esteem, decision-making, stress, risk-taking, gang activity and information about drugs and alcohol.
Richard Erickson, Tonganoxie school superintendent, spoke to the students and about 200 parents and friends who attended.
"Dare to be the best that you can be," Erickson said. "Learn to avoid the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs. And be careful of the friends you keep. It's much easier to avoid drugs and alcohol if you select friends who do not use and abuse drugs and alcohol."
All of the sixth-graders, wearing DARE T-shirts donated by the Tonganoxie Recreation Commis-sion and the Knights of Columbus, sang two songs, directed by Margaret Willson.
Frank Kohl, Leavenworth County attorney, addressed the students, encouraging them to think of other people when they consider their actions."You'll never know by the example you set how many lives you might touch," Kohl said.
Kohl instructed the group of students to stand up and say thanks to the audience.
"These are people who are here because of you, because they're proud of you, because they love you and they want to celebrate with you. They want you to set a good example for others of how to live."
Kohl said DARE lessons are valuable tools that apply to life.
"It's up to you to take those tools and make your parents proud of you now in the sixth grade, in the seventh and eighth grades and on into the future," the county attorney said.
As part of the DARE requirements, the students wrote essays. Six of the essays, selected by a team of judges, were read by the students, and medals were awarded to these students: Rachel Rodgers, Victoria King, Nichole Cox, Michael Holton, Garrett Kelly and Tamara Walters. The essays written by Garrett Kelly and Tamara Walters will be sent to a state essay competition.
Classroom teachers Janet Burnett, Susan Lenon, Karen Sivits and Laurie Bottenfield presented diplomas to all of the students for completion of the DARE program.
Some of the others who spoke or who helped with the graduation ceremony included Leaven-worth County Sheriff Herb Nye; Undersheriff Dave Zoellner; Leavenworth County Commis-sioner Wayne Eldridge; Tammie George, administrative assistant; Ken Carpenter, Tonganoxie chief of police; Mark Lingenfelser, Leavenworth Police Department; and Mark Zerrer, director of parks and recreation.
Anderson said Tonganoxie holds the distinction of being the county's pilot school for the DARE program, which began in 1990. Anderson has taught DARE programs throughout the county for 10 years.
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