WDC sixth-graders graduate from D.A.R.E. program today
Wadena-Deer Creek sixth-grade students graduated from the D.A.R.E. program in a special culmination ceremony on April 8 in the WDC Middle/High School Gymnasium.
Students participated in the 10-week interactive program that not only teaches students the dangers of drug, alcohol and tobacco use, but also ways to deal with a variety of situations they face at school and in everyday life, such as bullying and peer pressure.
Wadena Police Officer Nick Grabe is in his third year teaching the D.A.R.E. curriculum to WDC sixth-graders. D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education.
The ceremony kicked off with a welcome from Grades 5-12 Principal Tyler Church who commended the students for being great kids and for working hard to graduate from the DARE program.
Wadena Police Chief Naomi Plautz then gave the keynote address and talked about the importance of teaching our kids about good decision-making skills to help them lead safe and healthy lives.
“These young boys and girls have already faced some tough life situations and now they have been taught some good decision-making skills. Now put them to good use," Chief Plautz told the attentive sixth-graders, who is a former D.A.R.E. instructor.
Chief Plautz also asked parents and grandparents to talk with their children about drugs, alcohol, tobacco, over-the-counter medicines, and prescription medications and how to weigh their options when making a decision.
“Your reinforcement is desperately needed in helping them develop good self-esteem and a positive attitude toward their peers and of themselves,” said Chief Plautz.
WDC’s DARE Coordinator Lori Grendahl introduced the DARE essay winners: Joslynn Judd from Ms. Berg’s class, Jack Motschenbacher from Mr. Ferris’s class and Tianna Saltzman from Mrs. Grendahl’s class. Each student read his or her essay at the podium during the graduation ceremony.
Mrs. Grendahl and Officer Grabe both recognized Linda Youngbauer and the Wadena Elks Lodge for the club’s $2,500 donation toward the DARE program. “Without your support, we could not bring this valuable program to Wadena-Deer Creek sixth-graders,” said Officer Grabe.
Seventy-four sixth-graders from Ms. Berg, Mr. Ferris and Mrs. Grendahl's classes filed up front to receive their graduation certificates from Officer Grabe, and a congratulatory handshake from Principal Church, Chief Plautz and Youngbauer.
Wadena County Sheriff’s Deputy Bryan Savaloja and his specially trained German shepherd, Zeus, gave a demonstration on how this dog is trained to assist law enforcement. Deputy Savaloja also answered questions from students and the audience about Zeus.
Officer Grabe concluded the program by honoring the late Officer Pete Resch, who started the D.A.R.E. program at WDC Schools, for his devotion to WDC sixth-graders and the D.A.R.E. program.
“He built our program into what it is today,” said Officer Grabe, who also told the audience a special dedication ceremony will take place on May 19 at 7 p.m. at WDC Middle/High School. May 19th marks 10 years since Officer Resch died in the line of duty at the age of 47.
“He would have been proud to see this program still going strong here at WDC,” said Officer Grabe.
After the ceremony, families and graduates enjoyed cupcakes, cookies and refreshments in the Commons.