Barry County DARE officer Capt. Dana Kammerlohr opened the DARE graduation ceremony by introducing Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly, Deputy Leonard Collins and Donna Allen, who has assisted Kammerlohr with the graduation events for several years.
"I also can't do the DARE program without Caley (Barry County's DARE dog) and my husband, (Dr. Chip Kammerlohr), who also supports this program 110 percent," said Kammerlohr. "This is our 30th DARE graduation."
Kammerlohr also recognized all of the parents, friends and family members who attended the ceremony.
"Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to come and support our graduates," said Kammerlohr. "Thank you parents, for sharing your kids with me. Each one of them is in my heart."
During the DARE ceremony, students demonstrated several DARE activities and read drug resistance essays.
"It doesn't take a strong person to say yes to drugs," said Alec Askins, of Shell Knob. "It takes a strong person to say no. I've learned to think outside the box in order to say no to drugs."
Joey Condi, of Shell Knob, said that through the DARE program he learned how to avoid violence and be drug-free. He has also developed a voice and the confidence to say no to drugs.
"The main thing I learned was to think outside the box and to make healthy choices," said Nancy Moreno, of Exeter. "I don't want to do drugs ever because I know how they will affect my future. I also want to encourage others not to do drugs or use alcohol."
Logan Mattingly, of Exeter, shared the DARE decision making model with all of those attending the graduation ceremony. She said she learned to define the choices she has, assess the consequences of her choices, respond by making a healthy choice and evaluate her decision my reviewing the outcome.
"Peer pressure comes from your friends," said Mattingly. "Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad. The skills I have learned in DARE will help me think outside the box and say no to drugs."
Kammerlohr also recognized six students who received honorable mentions for their DARE essays. The students included: Dakota Crownhart, Cory Johnson and Jake Trendley, of Shell Knob; and Skyler Boxley, Tyler Boxley and Kitana Gregory, of Exeter.
DARE graduate cards were presented to the students by Shell Knob and Exeter teachers, administrators and DARE representatives. The 2008 DARE graduates are listed below by school.
Shell Knob: Bailey Albertson, Askins, Jonah Bundy, Condi, Crownhart, Michael Glenn, Corey Hunt, Johnson, Allysa Parsons, Brandon Renfrow, Shayley Sams, Autumn Sheets, Jerry Townsend and Trendley.
Exeter: Blake Baldwin, Catherine Ball, Skyler Boxley, Tyler Boxley, Clint Bradford, Itzel Cervantes, Bridgett, Diepenbrock, Lorrando Garner, Gregory, Dylan Henry, Hannah Henson, Jessica Hoppie, Ty Killion, Keanu Mahurin, Mattingly, Moreno, Baillie O'Neill, Rylie Odenbrett, Kenneth Phillips, Laci Schwerin, Brook Sorensen, Erica Thompson and Elizabeth Williams.
Diepenbrock and Killion, of Exeter, and Bundy and Sheets, of Shell Knob, were also presented with Daren Awards.
Kammerlohr also took a few moments to recognize long-time DARE secretary Glenda Ward, who passed away in October.
"I few weeks ago I lost a very dear friend," said Kammerlohr. "She was born with a handicap, but she also had a can do, never quit attitude. She was more than my secretary she pushed me and challenged me to do what's right."
Kammerlohr closed the graduation ceremony by thanking parents and friends who attended the event. She also left the graduates with a special message.
"The good and bad decisions made by you affect your lives," said Kammerlohr. "Make sure you stop and think about the consequences of your choices, and don't ever be afraid to make the right decision for yourself even if it is not popular with your friends.
"Realize that there is power in dreams," said Kammerlohr. "Know that we believe in you but that first you need to believe in yourselves to reach your dreams. Hold onto the hopes of tomorrow. Dare to do what is right. Dare to dream. Believe in yourself because I believe in each of you."