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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) – Two D.A.R.E. graduates from the area have won a first and second place in D.A.R.E. Wisconsin’s essay contest.

Lilly Ackerman, of Southern Bluffs Elementary in La Crosse, and Lydia Hogue, of St. Patrick’s Elementary in Onalaska, initially tied for first place in the contest.

After a narrow vote by the D.A.R.E. board of directors, Ackerman’s essay won first place.

The essays focus on ways they apply D.A.R.E. lessons in their life, and what D.A.R.E. has taught them. Topics such as drug’s negative effect on the body, and tips for making good decisions in every aspect of life.

Officer Kurt Weaver of the La Crosse Police Department sent Ackerman’s winning essay into the competition.

“She talks a lot about how she used what she learned in class, in real life situations. I think that’s what put her over the top, she showed actual applications of the dare lessons in real life, and she talks about that in her essay.”

D.A.R.E. provides students with more than just drug abuse education, with the topic of decision making a regular classroom topic.

“The big thing that Lilly wrote about, and the focus of every single lesson, is decision making. If you make good choices you will live a better life, makes sense.” Weaver describes.

To assist students with learning about decision making, the program developed a model to use in their daily lives.

“We have what is called the decision-making model where the students can go through and solve problems with this model. Talking about it, thinking it over, what are the good choices and the bad things that can happen with each choice,” explains Weaver.

Both the first and second place essays will be featured on the Wisconsin D.A.R.E. website.

From WXOW

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