Pledging to be drug-free

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Democrat Photo/Lindsay Reed Essay winners recognized Shell Knob and Exeter sixth graders celebrated Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) graduation in the Shell Knob School gymnasium on Dec. 14. Haylee Hobbs, from Exeter, and Tanner Chattam, from Shell Knob, were recognized for writing exceptional DARE essays this year. Pictured above, from left, are: Hobbs; Barry County DARE officer Larry Stockton; and Chattam.

Nearly 40 Exeter and Shell Knob sixth grade students were recognized during a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) graduation ceremony held in the Shell Knob School gymnasium on Dec. 14. The event was coordinated by Barry County DARE Officer Larry Stockton.

Stockton opened the ceremony by thanking several individuals who assisted with the program and graduation ceremony, including: Kathy Emo and the staff of the Barry County Sheriff's Office; Stockton's wife, Cheryl; and Sheriff Mick Epperly.

"This time a year ago, we didn't think we were going to have a DARE program anymore," said Stockton, "but an anonymous donor stepped forward to support the program and keep DARE in the schools. I want to take this time to thank that anonymous donor."

Exeter DARE graduates

Stockton also thanked the parents and family members who attended the event in support of the DARE graduates.

After Stockton's opening address, students read their winning drug resistance essays. This year's essay contest winners were: Tanner Chattam, of Shell Knob, and Haylee Hobbs, of Exeter.

"DARE is a life changing experience," said Hobbs. "It helps you say no to drugs, alcohol and tobacco and how to deal with stress and peer pressure."

Shell Knob DARE graduates

"The most important thing I learned in DARE is the bad effects drugs, tobacco and alcohol have on your body," said Chattam. "I learned to say no and how to say no."

Graduates had the opportunity to present their parents, teachers and other role models with paper flowers and balloons during the ceremony.

DARE graduation cards were presented to the students by Shell Knob teacher Mike Riepl and Exeter teacher Jay Palmer. The 2012 DARE graduates are listed below by school.

Shell Knob: Michael Bernsen, Delaney Bishop, Benjiman Boggs, Matthew Bonass, Tanner Chattam, William Hampton, Mary Hayse, Elizabeth Horine, Hailey Konsdorf, Chris Lemp, Gunnar McGill, Emily Miller, Rainy Shipman, Hunter Sparks, Quentin Steinmann, Jazlyn Waddle, Stephanie Ward and Peighten Whisman.

Exeter: Casey Ball, Rebecca Barton, Dalton Blake, Jon Blankenship, Jarrett Brattin, Emalee Davis, Jordan Eagan, Clayton Elders, Jacob Foster, Nicholas George, Michaela Hall, Haylee Hobbs, Leah Holden, Dawson Lasseter, Christapher Oxford, Ethan Robbins, Shayla Sports and Kelsey Vasey.

After closing remarks by Riepl, Stockton asked all students, parents, teachers and administrators to join in a circle of friends on the gym floor.

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