When you're in fifth grade, there's an enormous amount of pressure to fit in. But when everyone in your class agrees that it's a good idea to stay away from drugs and alcohol, it's a lot easier to do the right thing.
That was the message again Tuesday when four, fifth-grade classes took the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) pledge. The program has been around for quite a few years now, and this was the sixth year for officer Nate Dunlavy of the Estherville Police Department.
"It gets more exciting every time," said Dunlavy. "You guys have a great bunch of kids in this class."
The 2014 DARE class.
This was the second year of the new DARE program.
"This year it got a little bit better and the kids really seemed to be responding to it," Dunlavy said.
Dunlavy thanked parents, too, saying that without them their kids wouldn't even be in the program. He also thanked ELC for letting DARE into the school. And, as always, Dunlavy had lots of praise for teachers, saying, "You guys are awesome."
Dunlavy recognized Mrs. Lauritsen who's leaving this year and welcomed Ms. Larsen in her first year. He also thanked Mrs. Hoffman and Estherville Police Department chief Eric Milburn who shook hands with DARE graduates for the last time as they crossed the stage. Milburn is retiring this year.
And, probably most of all, Dunlavy thanked the students.
"You guys are the reason that I enjoy doing it," Dunlavy said. "You guys are the highlight of my career."
ELC Middle School principal Nathan Essary thanked Dunlavy for coming into the school, then officer Matt Reineke and K-9 officer Max gave students a demonstration of how Max detects illegal drugs.