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Proudly holding up their graduation certificates at the DARE ceremony April 9 are 77 sixth-grade students. Also pictured are their teachers Patty Berg, Keith Ferris and Lori Grendahl; DARE instructor/police officer Nick Grabe; and Linda Youngbauer, Wadena Elks secretary. The Elks donate $2,500 toward the DARE program.

WDC sixth-graders graduate from D.A.R.E. program

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On April 9, Wadena-Deer Creek sixth-grade students graduated from the D.A.R.E. program in a special ceremony held in the WDC Middle/High School Gymnasium.

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Wadena Police Officer Nick Grabe taught the DARE curriculum, "Keepin' It Real" to WDC sixth-graders. DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Students participated in a 10-lesson program that not only teaches students the dangers of drug, alcohol and tobacco use, but also ways to deal with a variety of situations they face at school and in everyday life.

During DARE classes held Wednesday mornings, students were asked to write an essay on what they learned. DARE essay winners were Maggie Carlson, Quinlan Edwards and Kennedy Gravelle, who each read their essays during the graduation ceremony.

WDC Activities Director Norm Gallant welcomed parents, grandparents and guardians to the graduation ceremony, while Wadena Police Chief Naomi Plautz gave the DARE Address.

"These young boys and girls have already faced some tough life situations and now they have been taught some good decision-making skills -- put them to good use," said Chief Plautz.

"Parents, grandparents, friends ... talk with your children about drugs, alcohol, tobacco, over-the-counter medicines, prescription medications and how to weigh their options when making a decision. Your reinforcement is desperately needed in helping them develop good self-esteem and a positive attitude toward their peers and of themselves."

Seventy-seven sixth-graders from Ms. Berg, Mr. Ferris and Mrs. Grendahl's classes filed up front to receive their graduation certificates.

Wadena County Sheriff's Deputy Bryan Savaloja and his specially trained German shepherd, Zeus, gave a demonstration on how Zeus is trained to assist law enforcement. Deputy Savaloja answered numerous questions from students and the audience about Zeus too.

The ceremony concluded with DARE Coordinator Lori Grendahl recognizing Nick Grabe and Linda Youngbauer, who represented the Wadena Elks Lodge. The Elks donate $2,500 toward the DARE program. Afterwards, families and graduates enjoyed cupcakes and refreshments in the Commons.

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