PHOTO: The Sacred Heart fifth graders who graduated from the D.A.R.E. program on April 20 are, front row, Brenna Sullivan, Haley Turner, Gabby Gadient, Kacie Bayne, Olivia Kremer, Lauren Lambert, Emma Brighton and Emily Schlarmann. Back row, Micah Williams, Robby Holmes, Maddie Gudenkauf, Jordan Kuper, D.A.R.E. Sgt. Dawn Graver, Nicole Porter, Mya Boffeli, Ben Oswald, Alex Britt and Gabrielle Steiner. (Photos by Kim Brooks)
PHOTO: Lauren Lambert gets high-fives from the D.A.R.E. role models during D.A.R.E. graduation at Sacred Heart.
By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
Throughout the month of April, the fifth graders in Monticello schools graduated from the DA.R.E. program, led by Monticello Police Officer Dawn Graver.
According to the D.A.R.E. website, “more than 50,000 local law enforcement officers are certified to teach D.A.R.E.” Sgt. Graver is one of the certified instructors.
The main objective of D.A.R.E. is to provide children with the information and skills they need to live drug-free and violence-free lives. “The mission is to equip kids with the tools that will enable them to avoid negative influences and instead, allow them to focus on their strengths and potential.”
During the Sacred Heart School D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony, Mr. Zimmerman said this was his 25th year associated with the D.A.R.E. program.
Sgt. Graver commended the fifth graders by saying they’ve done an outstanding job this year understanding the proper decision-making method.
“When you’re faced with tough decisions when you’re older,” said Graver, “remember back to your days of D.A.R.E.”
Graver said millions of kids benefit from D.A.R.E.
“It provides you with the skills needed to avoid involvement in gangs, drugs and alcohol,” commented Graver.
D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 and reaches millions of children in more than 300,000 classrooms in 10,000 communities in all 50 states. Graver said aside from the U.S., D.A.R.E. is also taught in 43 countries around the world.
Graver also thanked the D.A.R.E. role models for assisting in the program. Monticello has 17 D.A.R.E. role models in the community, an impressive number of high school students living substance-free lives! Those role models are: Devin Arduser, Faith Brehm, Ben Dirks, Ellyn Felton, Anna Finger, Katherine Gray, Brandie Heims, Erin Hosch, Allison Kraus, Tessa Leibold, Lael Lubben, Marissa Manternach, Grace McClusky, Logan McQuillen, Tim Norton, Kelsey Steger and Hannah Thompson.
Graver said in order to become a D.A.R.E. role model, you have to go through an application process.
Grace McClusky, a senior at MHS, spoke to the parents and Sacred Heart fifth graders about her family’s history with smoking, which unfortunately led to the death of her father when she was just 4 years old.
She said one of her grandfathers passed away long before she was even born, when his own dad was a young man. Then to lose her father, at such a young age, McClusky’s story hit the hearts of many in that room.
Her emotional story made everyone, especially the young D.A.R.E. students, think twice.
“My family photo went from three to two people by the time I was 4 years old,” said McClusky through tears.
She said her dad passed away from undiagnosed emphysema.
“It went unnoticed by family and doctors,” she said. “The he was suddenly gone from our lives.”
McClusky warned that denial is not the best way to live your life. She said if you’re in denial about having a smoking, drug or substance abuse problem, it’ll only get worse. She said her dad quit smoking several times, but never completely kicked the bad habit. She said her dad is not able to be here in her life now as she prepares for graduation, prom and other high school accomplishments.
“He’s not here for my successes and see that I don’t drink or smoke or do drugs,” said McClusky.
PHOTO: The 17 D.A.R.E. role models are, front row, Brandie Heims, Ellyn Felton, Faith Brehm and Marissa Manternmach. Middle row, Tessa Leibold, Grace McClusky, Lael Lubben, Allison Kraus, Erin Hosch and Anna Finger. Back row, Hannah Thompson, Kelsey Steger, Devin Arduser, Logan McQuillen, Tim Norton, Ben Dirks and Katherine Gray. (Photo courtesy of Rairdin Photography)