Essay Required For Dare Graduation

The top ten essay writers. Back left to right: Trustin Williams, Jaylan Perigo, Emily Sherrill, Anna Clark, and Allison Jones Middle: Sadie Prather, Daylen Prather and Gracie Carter Front: Drew Henderson and Grant Goodell

On November 17, 2016, all 5th grade students at Skiatook Intermediate Elementary successfully completed and graduated the D.A.R.E. program.

The top two essay winners were Trustin Williams and Lillie Sherrill with Officer Johnny Adams.

Students attended class for ten weeks on Drug Abuse Resistance Education offered by Skiatook Schools’ resource officer, Johnny Adams. To graduate from D.A.R.E. students were required to demonstrate their understanding of the decision making model when encountering difficult circumstances such as bullying, peer pressure and substance abuse.

The graduation consisted of a party with pizza, drinks and a small ceremony recognizing their accomplishments. Each student was required to write an essay detailing what they learned during D.A.R.E. and how they planned to use it in the future.

Ten students were recognized for their outstanding performance on the essay: Trustin Williams, Jaylan Perigo, Emily Sherrill, Anna Clark, Allison Jones, Sadie Prather, Daylen Prather, Gracie Carter, Drew Henderson and Grant Goodell.

The top two essay winners were Trustin Williams and Lillie Sherrill who will also be recognized in the Skiatook Christmas Parade. All students received gifts for completing the class including a D.A.R.E. certificate.

Since 1983, D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) has demonstrated leadership in the prevention of drug abuse. The D.A.R.E. program is successful by the combined efforts of Law Enforcement, Education, and Prevention Science. D.A.R.E.’s Keepin’ it REAL Elementary curriculum prevents drug use by developing basic skills needed for safe and responsible choices. These skills extend beyond drugs to health and mature choices in life.

The ten lessons are arranged in a scaffolding process, starting with the basics about responsibility and decision making and then building on each other allowing students to develop their own responses to real life situations.

The D.A.R.E. keepin’ it REAL Elementary Curriculum’s new theme of safe and responsible choices provides a framework for teaching about decision making, risk, stress, communication, peer pressure, while providing the student with the information about drugs they need to make informed choices. The videos, situations and role plays, and journaling gives students the opportunity to practice skills, write, and plan for the future.

Officer Johnny Adams truly enjoys his job as the school resource officer for the Skiatook Police Department and as a D.A.R.E instructor. “The thing I like most about my job as a D.A.R.E. officer is spending time with the kids. I love seeing their smiling faces and different personalities. If I can only reach one child and can make that difference in his or her life, then it is all worth it. That is my biggest reward,” said Officer Adams.

From Skiatuk Journal

Howard County - Fifth grade students from Crestwood Elementary graduated from the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program Friday, Jan. 5.

Howard County Deputy Sheriff Richard Hollenbeck, who has been involved with the D.A.R.E. program for the past four years, distributed the certificates of completion to the students.

D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony

Hollenbeck said he was pleased with the show of support for the students at the D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony:

“It went really great; a lot of parents turned up to support their kids. We had a couple of officers from the sheriff’s department, and the state patrol was there.  All of the teachers, principal and superintendent were there, so it was a good turnout for the kids,” he said.

Hollenbeck explained the format of the graduation ceremony:

“At the end of the program, it is run much like a high school graduation, except without the gowns,” he said. 

“We had the teachers speak on behalf of their classes. Students are required to write an essay. This year, we did a competition with the essays. I gave them awards for best essay; so I took the top two out of each grade. No one, not even the teachers, knew who the winners were until the ceremony. It was fun to see the reaction of the kids after they found out who won.”

Fifth grade D.A.R.E. essays winners are:

Class 5A: Cale Knight, Colin Larson;

Class 5B: Brooks Moser, Payton Johnson;

Class 5C: Laney Peter, Brock Voyna

Hollenbeck continued, “The students read their essays, which I think added some pride to what they do. At the end, I shook their hands, congratulated them, and so did the other officers and teachers. They get a bag with school supplies in it, and at the end, they graduate and it’s something to be proud of. With that extra motivation of winning an award, I saw even better essays this year, and I think it really motivated the kids. It added excitement for both the kids and teachers.”

About D.A.R.E.

Officer Hollenbeck describes the D.A.R.E. program:

“D.A.R.E. is a 10-lesson program, and it’s an actual curriculum,” Hollenbeck said.

“We get our training for two weeks in Des Moines to get certified to teach. The curriculum includes effects of drug and alcohol use, tobacco use, bullying, bully prevention, how to communicate, how to be good citizens, and how to resist temptation and handle stress. All of the lessons give the students tools to get through life, through the rough times they are going to face at some point.”

Hollenbeck said while students might initially be intimidated by seeing a uniformed law enforcement officer at school, over the course of the program, they become more comfortable:

“I get a lot of kids that wish the program wouldn’t end, and who want me to come and teach them again next year,” Hollenbeck said. In the beginning, I think they are intimidated by (an officer) in uniform, and by the end of (the course), I don’t think they really care about that. I feel like I’m in a classroom like a teacher; that (feeling) progresses through the program.”

Teacher and student impressions

Crestwood fifth grade teachers and students share their impressions of the D.A.R.E. program:

• Fifth grade teacher Becky Bohr: “Officer Hollenbeck was very engaging and very motivating for the kids. He had a different lesson every time. He talked about bullying, drugs, consequences and making choices. The kids always looked forward to D.A.R.E. class, and really enjoyed it. They got to do skits, and I think that’s what they really enjoyed. They were put in real-life scenarios and they got to practice how to handle real-life situations, which will hopefully give them confidence to help them say ‘no’ or stand up for others.”

• Student Lily Foltz-Troendle: “My favorite thing about D.A.R.E was about sometimes we got to do skits, and sometimes the D.A.R.E officer would make us laugh.”

• Student Kendall Schwickerath:  “I liked that we got to do lots of fun activities with him, and he taught us a lot of things.”

• Teacher Lois Leifeld: “When the D.A.R.E. classes started, right away he talked about writing an essay and graduation. The students thought, ‘This sounds like something that is really serious and important. We have to write an essay? We’re going to graduate?’ He was explaining about the essay and graduating and throughout the lessons, some of the students thought, ‘We know about drugs’ or ‘We know about drinking’, but through the lessons, there were some real eye-openers. The students were brave enough to share that, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that’. A lot of learning took place, even for me. I was taking notes.”

• Student Jake Underbakke-Hennessy: “My favorite thing was how fun it was. We weren’t just sitting at our desks; we were playing games and he was trying to get us into it, and I got into it a lot. We learned about drugs and alcohol and how they can affect your life.”

• Student Lily Farmer: “My favorite part was how (Officer Hollenbeck) explained something to us, and we didn’t understand it, he would make a game out of it and describe it to us more.”

• Teacher Julie Wilson:  “I’ve probably been involved with the D.A.R.E. program for 30 years or more. The thing that amazes me the most is how much they work on strategies to resist drugs and offer alternative choices;  really getting the kids to stop and think before they make choices that affect their lives. 

“The kids have really learned a lot about bullying and what the difference is between tattling and reporting, so that has been a good eye-opener for all of us, to know when we need to jump in and help someone.”

• Student Sophia Elaser: We all got together in groups and learn about safety for people; don’t do drugs. It was funny watching everybody (in the skits).”

• Student Cale Knight: We all had fun acting out what to do and what not to do. The D.A.R.E. essay is really fun, because you get to write out what you learned.”

Life lessons

Hollenbeck said he hopes the takeaway from the D.A.R.E. program will serve the students well as they get older:

“Life is not easy and will be full of challenges,” he said. “Hopefully they can revert back to what they learned; simple lessons from D.A.R.E. can go a long way when they face a challenge. We know as adults that life is hard; I don’t think they realize it yet, but they will someday, and hopefully they can remember what they learned to help themselves out.”

Hollenbeck said he hopes to perhaps expand the D.A.R.E. program in the future:

“I’m certified to teach a junior high curriculum and I just went to a refresher course to teach a high school curriculum, so I might be adding that in the future,” he said.

In the meantime, Hollenbeck said he is also grateful students are able to interact in a positive manner with a law enforcement officer:

“I’m glad they get a positive experience with a police officer, too. With all of the negativity they read or hear about in the news, they don’t know how to divide that up, and what’s real and what’s not. The D.A.R.E. program is great for that, to have an officer in the classroom with the kids. We’re not there as mean people who take people to jail. We are there because we care about the students and want to see them succeed.”

Fifth grade student D.A.R.E. graduates

Following are class rosters of the fifth grade students graduating from the D.A.R.E. program:

Class 5A, teacher Julie Wilson: Sophia Blaser, Brooklyn Casper, Blaire Cummings, Samuel Duryee, Trace Earles, Easton  Gossman, Cameron Hasleiet, Colton Heit, Lily Hubka, Kole Johnson, Spencer Kitchen, Cale Knight, Abigail Konkel, Colin Larson, Jaxon Millage, Gage Moser, Cassandra Nelson Dalila O’Bieglo, MaKiah Pierce, Alexis Sandry, Landon Schlangen, Kail Schmelzer, Brooke Schwade, Nathan Slade, Frederick Stevenson, Olivia Stevenson, Brayden Thompson and Lydia Williams.

Class 5B, teacher Lois Leifeld: Nathan Ahern, Aiden Brannon, Kyra Butikofer, Connor Carter, Collin Deden Kirsten Dehning, William Dozark, Lily Farmer, Kiya Fitch, Thor Gjere, Jasmine Hernandez, Kaden Holten, Olivia Johnson, Payton Johnson Adelina Meyer, Hayden Miller, Brooks Moser, Landon Myers, Josiah Nelson, Erica Ollendick, Alexis Pankow, Gina Pitzenberger, Matthew Praska, Ava Pucik, William Roberts, Wyatt St.Mary, Ethan Tlusty and Jake Underbakke-Hennessy

Class 5C, teacher Becky Bohr: Grace Barr, Bryce Bergan, Ella Bergan, Olivia Bruns, Ethan Casper, Boston Danielson, Dominic Dehning, Lily Foltz-Troendle, Emma Hayek, Layton Henry, Elana Junge, Blake Kuhn, Carter Lepa, Danny Miller, Parker Moser, Vienna Nibbelink, Owen Parker, Laney Peter, Ezra Phillips-Gossman, Mitchell Schmauss, Kendall Schwickerath, Bella Smoltz, Carla Soto, Jade Stone, Eli Swartzentruber, Mackenzie Thiele, Brock Voyna and Cayden Yslas.

More information

According to the D.A.R.E. website,

 ‘Launched in 1983, D.A.R.E. is a comprehensive K-12 education program taught in thousands of schools in America and 52 other countries. D.A.R.E. curricula address drugs, violence, bullying, internet safety, and other high risk circumstances that today are too often a part of students’ lives.’


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