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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. KNOP More than 500 students from the North Platte area gathered at the North Platte Rec Center for D.A.R.E. Day.

It’s the culmination of the ten week drug abuse resistance education program throughout the elementary schools in Lincoln County.

McDaid Elementary student James Heirigs was this year’s essay winner.

“I wrote about the effects of drugs and alcohol because I don’t want future generations to to use drugs and mess up the next generation,” Heirigs said.

North Platte Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ron Hanson was also on hand to share this special day with students.

“They are going to be exposed to more as they move on to middle school and when they move on to high school they are going to be exposed to more and as adults you are exposed to the whole world,” said Dr. Hanson. “So it really comes down to making good choices in life and hopefully we’ve equipped them as adults to make the right choices.”

The Nebraska State Patrol was on hand with their roll over simulator, as well as the North Platte Fire Department and Great Plains Health with their medical helicopter.

“We have a lot of organizations and its more of just knowledge of what these jobs do and to expose us as first responders to these kids because we know what they have go through,” said North Platte Public Schools D.A.R.E Officer.

Students also learned about the importance of life jackets while out on the open waters.

“For those of us who are doing dynamic things like jet skis or water skiing or tubing, life jackets are also a major piece of safety equipment for us in the event we do become unconscious we want to be able to float right?” said Nebraska Game and Commission Conservation Officer Brandon O’Neil.

About 525 students graduated from the program this year.