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ROTHSCHILD, Wis. (WSAW) — It use to be called Drug Abuse Resistance Education but now the D.A.R.E. program in north central Wisconsin is evolving into helping students make better decisions.

D.A.R.E. now stands for Define, Assess, Respond, Evaluate how to respond to different situations and problems. It’s a way to tackle all areas of a student’s life and even something they can take with them to adulthood.

The Principal of Evergreen Elementary, Rick Koepke, explained the shift. “Back in my day it was just say no to drugs and it was as simple as that. Research over the years has shown us it is a little more complicated then that. We can be more effective by directly teaching kids the decision making skills not only during situations where they might be tempted with drugs and alcohol but in all parts of their life,” said Koepke.

The program is designed for 5th graders to take during a semester and Rothschild Police Officer Jeff Zwicky runs the program at Evergreen Elementary. He says the shift in the program happened around 2012 and he thinks it helps tackle a lot of the other issues students face as well.

“I think it all links to one another through those 10 weeks and they build on those each week and we have a seen a very good impact on those kids on communication and responsibility and helping others and getting help from others. It is okay to ask for help from others,” said Zwicky.

Not only does it tackle how to make good decisions but they get to have fun while meeting and learning from police officers.

Graduates of the D.A.R.E. program have advice to future students about going through the program.

“Get to learn how bad drugs and stuff are. So if someone is doing them I can tell them to stop or tell an adult,” said Mckenna Woller, a graduate of the program.

“Keep a positive attitude about D.A.R.E. and life. Do the right thing,” said Cohen Priebe, also a graduate of the program.

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