La Crosse, WI (WXOW) – Two D.A.R.E. graduates from the area have won a first and second place in D.A.R.E. Wisconsin’s essay contest.
Lilly Ackerman, of Southern Bluffs Elementary in La Crosse, and Lydia Hogue, of St. Patrick’s Elementary in Onalaska, initially tied for first place in the contest.
After a narrow vote by the D.A.R.E. board of directors, Ackerman’s essay won first place.
The essays focus on ways they apply D.A.R.E. lessons in their life, and what D.A.R.E. has taught them. Topics such as drug’s negative effect on the body, and tips for making good decisions in every aspect of life.
Officer Kurt Weaver of the La Crosse Police Department sent Ackerman’s winning essay into the competition.
“She talks a lot about how she used what she learned in class, in real life situations. I think that’s what put her over the top, she showed actual applications of the dare lessons in real life, and she talks about that in her essay.”
D.A.R.E. provides students with more than just drug abuse education, with the topic of decision making a regular classroom topic.
“The big thing that Lilly wrote about, and the focus of every single lesson, is decision making. If you make good choices you will live a better life, makes sense.” Weaver describes.
To assist students with learning about decision making, the program developed a model to use in their daily lives.
“We have what is called the decision-making model where the students can go through and solve problems with this model. Talking about it, thinking it over, what are the good choices and the bad things that can happen with each choice,” explains Weaver.
Both the first and second place essays will be featured on the Wisconsin D.A.R.E. website.
Pueblo County Deputy John Christie and D.A.R.E. Essay Winner Daniela Vasquez
A Liberty Point Elementary School student was the second place finisher in this year’s District 70 D.A.R.E. essay contest, making her teachers and school very proud of her accomplishments.
Daniela Vasquez was recognized at a school assembly for having the second best essay in the competition among nearly 650 fifth graders in Pueblo School District 70.
Through the D.A.R.E. curriculum, taught by Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office deputies, students learn about the importance of steering clear of drugs and alcohol, reporting suspicious activity and bullying to adults and about things like peer pressure.
The hope is to help children develop good lifelong habits that they can carry with them into middle school and beyond.
Liberty Point Elementary School fifth grade teacher Tracee Easton said students are instructed to write an essay but given some free reign on what’s included.
“This year he (Deputy John Christie who taught Liberty Point Elementary School students) said he just wanted to read about what they learned, and how D.A.R.E. affected them,” she said.
Vasquez’s essay included the three things she said were most useful to her – bullying, the D.A.R.E. decision model and tobacco products.
“I think Deputy Christie is really nice and does just a really nice job,” she said. “He taught us a lot like how bad drugs are for us and how important it is to cherish friendships.”
Although the winner of the essay contest was announced at the District-wide D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony, runners up were not mentioned, so Vasquez didn’t know about her accomplishment until Christie congratulated her at the school assembly.
“I was really surprised. I’ve never won such a big award before,” she said.