Students graduate from program aimed to curb youth drug useSubmitted: 06/03/2015
EAGLE RIVER - More than eight percent of eighth graders nationwide used illicit drugs in the past year, according to a recent report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That statistic about triples for high school seniors.

Law enforcement across the country and right here in the Northwoods aim to lower that statistic by educating younger students.

About 60 fifth graders at Eagle River Elementary graduated from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education [D.A.R.E.] program on Wednesday.

A Vilas County Sheriff's deputy held ten sessions during the past few months to teach the students about a range of topics from saying no to alcohol and drugs to having respect for oneself and others.

"Every week, the big thing we talk about is decision making, just making good decisions, and things they'll be able to carry on with them as they grow up," said Vilas County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Murray.

To complete the course, students needed to write an essay about what they learned in the class. The students with the three best essays in each class were rewarded.

"If somebody asks you for something that you know you're not supposed to do, you know that you have the courage to say no to them. 'No, I'm not going to do that,'" said Brady Beyer, an essay winner.

"We learned to say no to drugs and to be able to have the confidence to say 'no' to people even if they're pressuring you to doing it," said Carolyn Schaars, another essay winner.

Murray says one of the most important lessons is student know they can trust officers.

"When I first started, kids wouldn't wave with all five fingers to a squad car. Now they do. You know, and now they can put a face to the person behind the squad. So they know who people are, who an officer is. And they've got somebody that they know that, 'If I need to talk to somebody, I can go to Officer Mike. I can go to Officer Dan,'" Murray added.

D.A.R.E. is a national program that was started in Los Angeles in the 1980s.

Story By: Lauren Stephenson

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