DARE students honored at graduation

Created in 1983, The DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, continues to bring awareness to groups of children around the country. In Osceola county schools, the program is presented to fifth or sixth graders, depending on the school district. DARE Officer,

Deputy Craig Baumgartner, is a familiar face among students. This is his 6th year educating boys and girls on the many dangers they can encounter and how their reaction makes the difference on whether or not they or someone else gets hurt. DARE is not only about saying no to drugs, the curriculum also addresses other issues such as smoking, bullying, and alcohol. For 10 weeks, students learn the consequences related to these subjects. “We don’t just tell them don’t do these things. We give them the info about the dangers to their own bodies, to others, to families and to their freedom,” explains Deputy Baumgartner. “Preventative services, like this program, are important because it prepares them with all this knowledge so that when the time comes that they are approached about drugs, or smoking, or alcohol, they can make the right decisions.”

This year nearly 300 students graduated from the program, including 67 fifth graders from Evart, 33 sixth graders from Marion, 72 fifth graders from Tustin and 121 fifth graders from GT Norman in Reed City. Students wrote essays about what they learned in the program along with pledges to themselves to stay strong and say no. Several essays were chosen to be read by students at graduation, though every essay was worthy of being read according to Deputy Baumgartner.

It is only with the assistance from the community and businesses and the hard work from teachers and local law enforcement agencies that the DARE program can continue. Mark your calendar for a fun upcoming fundraising event this summer. The DARE golf scramble, organized by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office will be at Spring Valley Golf Course. All that is set right now is that it will be on August 15th and the cost per person is $55. More information will be made available as soon as final arrangements are complete.

Special thanks definitely goes to all those who work in the program to keep our community’s children safe. Deputy Baumgartner will have one more year of working with students and one last graduation in 2013, before handing over the reigns. “I will always miss that interaction with the kids, but hopefully through these years of being a school liaison, I have let them know that officers are here to be of help to them, not always just around when there is trouble.”