D.A.R.E. to say no

It’s not every day that a person takes a lifelong pledge, but more than 100 students did just that on Tuesday.

Fifth-grade students in Webster City walked onto the stage of the Prem Sahai Auditorium to accept their certificates from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, D.A.R.E., and walked off as graduates from the program.

D.A.R.E. Officer Sgt. Ed Wardell began the ceremony by discussing the program that he said has benefited millions of children. The course educates children on the effects of tobacco, marijuana, alcohol and inhalants on their bodies. Children also interact and role-play situations similar to one where they might be offered illegal substances.

Duane Harding, associate principal at Webster City Middle School, reminded students of the chemicals that someone puts into their body when smoking a cigarette, which he said contains substances similar to those found in car batteries, washing fluid and nuclear waste.

“There are people putting that kind of stuff in their bodies,” Harding said. “The easy part is over, the hard part is ahead of you. Stick strong to your beliefs, listen to what that person on your shoulder is telling you, stay away from this stuff, and don’t ever, ever, ever, let someone talk you into something that you don’t want to do.”

Harding also congratulated graduates, and hoped that they live a long, clean life.

Glenn Tjaden, of the Noon Kiwanis group who funded the D.A.R.E. program this year, said both the program and Kiwanis share similar goals for helping youth in the community.

“That was why we decided as a local organization to get behind the D.A.R.E. program and to fund it now and presumably in perpetuity, however long we can have this program with is a great program,” Tjaden said.

Webster City Police Chief Brian Hughes also talked at the graduation, and thanked Tjaden and the Noon Kiwanis for their help in funding the program.

Six students were selected to read essays they had written about the D.A.R.E. program. Later, students were given their certificates.

A D.A.R.E. dance and activity night will be held at Fuller Hall on saturday for fifth through eighth grade students from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The event will be supervised by Webster City Police Officers.