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Future nurses, veterinarians, athletes and teachers vowed to reach their dreams by practicing a drug-free and healthy lifestyle during Gardnerville Elementary School’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) graduation ceremony.

More than 60 fifth-graders made promises to choose healthy lifestyles during last Friday’s event.

“D.A.R.E. is a very important program,” said fifth-grader Skylyn Rasmussen. “I think everyone and every school should teach it. It’s beneficial in teaching kids about peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and stress.”

Through the 12-week course, students learned about the harmful health effects of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. They also learned how to stand up to bullies, have confidence when dealing with peer pressure and how to make good choices through role play, games and other activities. The classes were taught by Douglas County Sheriff Deputy Chris Wiggins.

“There’s all these standardized tests and academic curriculums which is great and important, but the things that are not on those tests are probably the most important, and that’s teaching children how to make good choices and live a drug free an healthy life style,” said Sheriff Ron Pierini. “D.A.R.E. is that program.”

Pierini said D.A.R.E. also develops a positive relationship between kids and law enforcement officials.

Many students confirmed Pierini’s statement by saying they want to grow up to be peace officers — some students want to teach D.A.R.E. and others said their instructor became their friend and someone they could turn to in times of need.

The students presented essays on their response to the program and recited a D.A.R.E. rap before sharing their goals and vowing to stay drug-free to accomplish their dreams.

Briana Neben, Miss Douglas County, provided the graduates with the acronym “F-R-E-E” to help them remember their vows.

“Look around,” said Neben. “These are your friends, people you can turn to when you need help. They went through this program with you and know how to help you. Friends is the first word of our acronym. Resist is for the letter ‘R’. You have the tools, you know that healthy things are beneficial to you, so resist peer pressure and the temptation of unhealthy choices. The first ‘E’ is for esteem (self). Challenge yourself and set realistic dreams to pursue then fully invest in your goals. I know that no matter what goes on in your life, you will accomplish anything and boost your self-esteem. Our last ‘E’ is excited. I am so excited you have the tools to be drug free and make the right choices. I am excited to see what you do and accomplish in Douglas County because of your choices and commitment here today.”

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