Eleven fifth grade students from St. Lawrence School graduated from the D.A.R.E. program following a semester-long learning process. A final ceremony was conducted Friday, December 18, in the school gymnasium.
Those completing the program included Zander Bowsell, Marianna Fonder, Laney Forrette, Madisen Frerichs, Aiden Ludvigson, Nathan Pillatzki, Nadia Schneck, Will Snaza, Maurina Street, Paul Van Dover and Camryn Wiese.
Each student was given the opportunity to read their drug-free pledge to themselves, their families and friends and to the D.A.R.E. program. “I encouraged each student to make realistic goals that they will be able to successfully achieve throughout the remainder of their school years,” noted Milbank Police Chief Boyd VanVooren. “That way they are more likely to succeed.”
VanVooren was the instructor of the program that strives to teach students good decision-making skills to help them lead safe and healthy lives. The program not only teaches the students about drugs, alcohol and tobacco but expands on topics such as school, community and internet safety along with bullying awareness, education and prevention.
VanVooren has been a D.A.R.E. instructor for 17 years. He is just one year shy of going full circle with the students in Milbank. “This year’s junior class was my first D.A.R.E. class in Milbank,” he noted. “So next year will be the first class that has graduated from high school that were also my D.A.R.E. Students.”
VanVooren will begin the program with the fifth grade students at Koch School when classes resumes in January. The program will conclude in May with a graduation ceremony. VanVooren also helps chaperone the class’s year-end overnight trip to NeSoDak Camp.