Tucker McCurdy gets his DARE certificate. Those in the picture also include Fillmore County Sheriff Daryl Jensen, Chatfield Police Chief Shane Fox and Chatfield DARE Officer Aaron Miliander. (Chatfield News photo by Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy)
Tucker McCurdy gets his DARE certificate. Those in the picture also include Fillmore County Sheriff Daryl Jensen, Chatfield Police Chief Shane Fox and Chatfield DARE Officer Aaron Miliander. (Chatfield News photo by Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy)
What do you DARE to be?

"I meet some of my former DARE students, and some of them are doctors, attorneys, police officers... one of the things I feel fortunate about is seeing all the career choices they've made," said Fillmore County Commissioner Tom Kaase.

He was addressing the Chatfield Elementary School fifth grade Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education (DARE) graduates last Wednesday afternoon.

"I've seen students who went into law enforcement, own their own companies. I want you to take some of the things you've learned in the past 10 weeks and remember why they're important in the decisions you make."

Kaase was the guest speaker during the graduation event at which students who had completed the curriculum with Chatfield Police Officer Aaron Miliander received a certificate for their participation in DARE. Also present at the ceremony were Chatfield Police Chief Shane Fox and Fillmore County Sheriff Daryl Jensen.

Miliander addressed the parents and grandparents in attendance, saying, "DARE is founded on the collaboration of three groups: law enforcement, schools and parents. The lessons the students learned in DARE are more than about not smoking, using alcohol or drugs. They learned about decision making and the skills they need to become role models for future generations."

Students in the three classes Miliander visited each week created posters and wrote essays on why DARE is important to them and what they will strive to become as graduates of the program.

Winners of the poster contest were Jada Escalera, Lashawna Sayavong, BrookLyn Johnson and Benjamin Brogan. Johnson's poster will be on display at the Mall of America as part of the Minnesota DARE poster contest throughout the month of April.

Essay winners included Gage Tuohy, Johnson, Annalee Johnson and Cora Fleming.

Fleming shared her essay, which spoke of how she "learned not to take drugs, drink or smoke, and to always make good choices, even though there's peer pressure and it's hard to say 'no' to your friends."

Following the reading of Fleming's essay, the officers congratulated each student and presented certificates to them.

In his closing remarks, Miliander said, "I know that the students learned a lot from me, but what they don't know is that I learned a lot from them. You are now the people your younger brothers and sisters look up to. They learn from what you do. I challenge everyone here to be a good role model."