WARSAW — Students from nine Warsaw elementary schools, as well as families, teachers and law enforcement officers, gathered at the Grace College Manahan Orthopaedic Center in Winona Lake on Tuesday, May 14, for the annual DARE graduation.
DARE, which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, was founded in 1983. The police officer-led series of classroom lessons allows for students to learn the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs and violence.
This is the 30th year of the DARE program being offered to all Warsaw Community Schools’ sixth-grade students. The program was first implemented on Sept. 5, 1988.
The event began with Warsaw Police Department Detective Sergeant Brad Kellar performing the National Anthem. DARE Officers Roy Navarro and Allen Danko led the students in the R.O.A.R. greeting, with Warsaw Police Chief Scott Whitaker, Winona Lake Police Chief Joe Hawn and Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle Dukes acting as judges for which schools were the loudest and most enthusiastic.
Josh Schmucker was the keynote speaker for the graduation ceremony. He addressed the crowd about his journey from recovering as an alcoholic and encouraged the students to make healthy choices and learn good habits.
“You are the accumulation of the five people you hang out with most,” said Schmucker. “Treat other people the way you want to be treated. The character you display is what’s most important.”
During the graduation ceremony, a number of students were presented with awards. Some of the awards received are listed below.
2019 Student of the Year Awards
Sacred Heart Catholic School — Olivia Martinez
Jefferson — Mia Jones
Claypool — Josiah Rice
Lincoln — Kyler Polston
Eisenhower — Isaac Newsome
Leesburg — Brooklyn Nibert
Washington — Isaac Loane
Madison — Chole Ellenwood
Harrison — Savanna Daniels
2019 DARE Essay Winners
Emma Van Puffelen
Jayla Simone Tong
2019 Officers Choice Award Winners