Lanesboro sixth graders graduated from D.A.R.E. at the graduation program hosted at Kingsland Middle School in Wykoff on May 27. In front, from left, are Lyndon Arnold, Trevor Atkinson, Payton Benson, Alida Berg, Mai Linh Gjere, Madelyn Haugen and Sydney Moen. In the second row are Frank Ochtrup-Dekeyrel, Kaylee Peterson, Sophie Pieper, Carter Rasmussen, Nora Rein and Nora Sampson. In the third row are Sophia Simes, Alynnah Sorensen, Zachary Steinfeldt, Zachary Torgerson, Harlee Wead and Hannah Wolf.BRETTA GRABAU/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWS GROUP
Lanesboro sixth graders graduated from D.A.R.E. at the graduation program hosted at Kingsland Middle School in Wykoff on May 27. In front, from left, are Lyndon Arnold, Trevor Atkinson, Payton Benson, Alida Berg, Mai Linh Gjere, Madelyn Haugen and Sydney Moen. In the second row are Frank Ochtrup-Dekeyrel, Kaylee Peterson, Sophie Pieper, Carter Rasmussen, Nora Rein and Nora Sampson. In the third row are Sophia Simes, Alynnah Sorensen, Zachary Steinfeldt, Zachary Torgerson, Harlee Wead and Hannah Wolf.BRETTA GRABAU/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWS GROUP
<
1
2
>
As the school year ends, everyone begins to set aside time to celebrate graduation with seniors moving on to their next stage of life. Yet there are other important graduations for students younger than seniors as well. One of these is the D.A.R.E graduation.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program began in 1983, founded by Los Angeles Police Department Chief Daryl Gates. After seeing gangs recruiting 13-year-olds to join them, he decided he wanted to change this.

On Tuesday, May 27, sixth graders from Mabel-Canton, Rushford-Peterson, Lanesboro and Kingsland met at the Kingsland Middle School in Wykoff for the graduation ceremony.

"The program talks about alcohol and drugs. D.A.R.E's main purpose is to teach you to make healthy decisions," Deputy Lance Boyum stated as he addressed the graduates.

Since 1983, D.A.R.E has spread worldwide. Fillmore County's D.A.R.E program began 24 years ago.

"It's pretty neat we're still here after 24 years. Kingsland and Rushford-Peterson have been with it since the beginning. Lanesboro had a program for 24 years, but was not taught by the sheriff's office. Mabel-Canton is back with us as well," said Sheriff Daryl Jensen.

Over 130 students received their graduation certificates for completing the program during last week's ceremony. Jensen handed the awards to the students as their respective D.A.R.E officers read their names. Four of these students also received certificates for the best essay on what they learned through the program.

"There were so many good D.A.R.E essays, it was really tough to choose the winners. After seven years teaching D.A.R.E, the essays give us ideas on how to teach you better," related Deputy Kevin Beck.

The essay winners were Kaylee Peterson from Lanesboro, Sarina Stortz from Mabel-Canton, Reed Gathje from Kingsland and Leah Himlie from Rushford-Peterson.

Of course, no graduation is complete without a challenge to the graduates. This year, Marla Stanton, assistant Fillmore County attorney, encouraged the students to remember what they learned in D.A.R.E and make good choices.

"With more responsibility comes more accountability. It is not always easy to just say no and make good choices," she said. "It is important to think of the future before you make a bad choice and surround yourself with people who make good decisions. Everyone makes bad choices, but it is important to learn from your mistakes."

Many thanks were expressed to the teachers of each school, the officers and the students for making D.A.R.E work. Deputies Beck and Boyum specifically thanked Sheriff Jensen for his support of the D.A.R.E. officers and for his work with the program as the sheriff will be retiring at the end of the year.