DARE program graduates 116 fifth-grade students
This year, 116 fifth-graders graduated from the DARE Program in Tonganoxie Elementary School.
This was the first year fifth-graders took the program, and it turned out well, said Connie Anderson, sheriff's deputy and a DARE instructor. Previously, sixth-graders have participated.
"It was a new class," Anderson said. "They were real excited to absorb the information and their eagerness to learn was fun."
This is the 12th year that Anderson has taught in the district and she plans to keep on teaching safety and saying "NO" to drugs. Anderson said she hopes students remember that they always have choices and that they should please only themselves.
One requirement of the curriculum was for students to write an essay about what they had learned in class and why it is important to stay off drugs.
There were seven essay winners. Of these, two students, Tyler Gurss and Ashli Koch, qualified for state. Other winners included Courtenay DeHoff, Kelsey Conrad, Jessica Derzinski , Kayla Beggs and Sami Franiuk.
Following the graduation ceremony, students talked about the program.
"I learned the eight ways to say 'NO' and my favorite song that we learned was 'Choices,'" said MacKenzie Kelly.
Cody Stauch said, "We learned how to stay off of drugs and my favorite thing was the lessons."
Frank Kohl was the guest speaker for the graduation. Kohl, Leavenworth County attorney, spoke about their choices and told the students to worry about the things that really matter in life.
Many other guests attended, including Richard Erickson, Tonganoxie superintendent; Major David Zoellner, Leavenworth County undersheriff; Chief Ken Carpenter of Tonganoxie police; county commissioners Joe Daniels, Bob Adams and Don Navinsky; agent Gene Hatfield, Alcoholic Beverage Control; Mayor John Franiuk; and Jerry Tenbrink, state coordinator of DARE.
"We want other people to realize that DARE is not the only curriculum that is offered for help," Tenbrink said. "DARE is the only one delivered by law but there are other programs that you can see for help. Kids are more intelligent these days and they want and need someone who knows what they're talking about."
Tenbrink, who sat in on the some of the lessons taught by Anderson, said he was impressed and proud of the Tonganoxie fifth-graders, for their behavior, as well as their eagerness to learn about safety with drugs.
The DARE Program has 266 officers statewide and 50,000 officers nationwide. World-wide, 36 million students participate in the program.