DARE graduates

Stratford students earn certificates for completing program

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Chris Anderson JayLee McFarland receives her D.A.R.E. certificate Thursday from Stratford Principal Sarah Binder and Deputy Dave Turpin. Twenty-two students graduated from the 10-week program at the school.

STRATFORD — Stratford Elementary students received certificates commemorating their graduation from D.A.R.E. Thursday afternoon.

The 5th and 6th grade class of 22 students has been participating in D.A.R.E. for the past 10 weeks with Hamilton County Deputy Dave Turpin.

Turpin shared that D.A.R.E, which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, has changed a lot in recent years and is no longer just about drugs and alcohol. D.A.R.E students learned from Turpin about personal safety, peer pressure, decision making, bullying, and drugs and alcohol.

“We use what’s called a DDMM, a dare decision making model, which we all use every day. It’s where you have a problem you have to look at that problem and decide how to fix it,” Turpin said.

In addition to helping young people learn how to deal with difficult decisions, Turpin saw D.A.R.E as a way to create a positive relationship between law enforcement and students.

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Chris Anderson Students grab some juice and a snack after the DARE graduation ceremony held at Stratford Elementary Thursday. Above, Sheriff Doug Timmons chats with students as they come through the serving line.

“Most times people see us when there’s a problem and they don’t want us there. So, this is a good opportunity for them to see us positively,” Turpin said.

Former Stratford student Kelsey Flockhart was at the graduation as a guest speaker. Flockhart talked about her experiences as a second-year student at Iowa State and how it relates to what she learned in D.A.R.E.

Flockhart shared with students the cost of her education as well as the cost of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. She then asked students whether they thought they could afford college if they were doing drugs and alcohol.

Three Stratford students, Zoie Timm, Quintin Weber, and Jayden Wibholm, shared essays they wrote about their experiences with D.A.R.E.

Timm shared how D.A.R.E. helped her learn how to deal with stress in her life, as well as how to make decisions that make her safer. Weber shared how he was happy he learned about the negative effects of drugs and alcohol, because he’d like to stay in school and be successful. Wibholm shared how D.A.R.E. made him think about the consequences of his choices. He also said D.A.R.E. helped him when it came to not fighting with his little sister.

Wibholm said his favorite part about D.A.R.E. was the informative videos he watched during the class. He also felt that the program made a big impact on his life and should be a bigger part of school curriculum.

“The most important thing I learned was probably peer pressure,” Wibholm said, “I wasn’t really sure what that was.”