D.A.R.E. program on track
The Tonganoxie school district's D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program is moving along. This year, fifth-graders at Tonganoxie are learning about drug resistance education.
Last week, Jerry Tenbrink, the statewide D.A.R.E. coordinator who works in the office of Kansas Attorney General Carla Stoval, sat in on D.A.R.E. classes taught by Connie Anderson.
Anderson, a sergeant with the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Department, has been teaching D.A.R.E. in Tonganoxie since 1991. Tonganoxie was the county's pilot D.A.R.E. program, which started in 1990.
Tenbrink, who worked as the alcohol and drug prevention educator for Topeka public schools for 10 years prior to becoming the state D.A.R.E. coordinator in February 2000, trained D.A.R.E. officers during that 10-year period.
"The lessons taught by D.A.R.E. are lessons that children can't hear too often," Tenbrink said.
Among the lessons are topics that deal with personal awareness and self-esteem. Of course, talks dealing more directly with drug and alcohol abuse prevention also make up the 16-week program.
At the end of the program, students participate in a culmination ceremony at which students judged tops in an essay contest read aloud what they have written.
"Sometimes the essay winners are students who have sat through the classes without ever having said much at all," Anderson said. "But when you read their essays, you know they've been soaking everything up."
Part of Tenbrink's job is to visit the schools in Kansas where D.A.R.E. is taught.
Across the state, 740 schools in 63 counties participate in the program, he said. Classes in these schools are instructed by a total of 250 certified law enforcement officers. To graduate from D.A.R.E. instructor training, each officer goes through two weeks of intensive training, Tenbrink said. He also said it's necessary to continue to train D.A.R.E. officers.
"The reason we keep doing it is the officers always keep getting promoted," Tenbrink said. "In teaching the D.A.R.E., they learn communication skills, listening skills and organizational skills."