Nearly 20 Neligh-Oakdale students became the first D.A.R.E. graduates in the district in more than two decades.
Deputy John Shaver taught the class to fifth-grade students at Neligh-Oakdale, who graduated from the program on Monday.
D.A.R.E., which stands for drug abuse resistance education, was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and was at one time in 95 percent of all U.S. schools. It was a part of local schools for many years but was eventually cut. Shaver said it’s important to bring D.A.R.E. back into Antelope County because the program is more than just teaching the dangers of drug abuse.
“We also use D.A.R.E. fore a decision-making model, where it stands for define, assess, respond and evaluate,’” Shaver said. “By teaching the kids how to define their situation as a problem, challenge or opportunity, they can access that as to what choices they have and can respond and then evaluate their decision. By giving them that way of thinking, you’re giving them a huge advantage for later in life.”
Shaver took the class as a youth growing up in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and credits the program for leading him to law enforcement. Shaver said D.A.R.E. puts law enforcement in a different light for children and shows them if they a situation or a problem, officers are approachable.
“I wanted to be in law enforcement because of D.A.R.E. That’s what drove me here,” he said. "Seeing how the officer took the time to help people, not just on scenes but taking the time out of his day to come into the classroom and teach us. It showed me what law enforcement can do and what it stands for.”
Training to teach the program isn’t taken lightly. Shaver spent two weeks in Pierre, S.D., last June learning not only about the program but also its teaching methods. School administrators worked with law enforcement on how to teach the class to elementary, and then officers taught it back to them. The final included having to teach D.A.R.E. to students who had previously taken the class. Those students then graded law enforcement.
Shaver is now a certified D.A.R.E. instructor and will have to be re-certified if there are changes implemented in the program in the future.
“When Sheriff Bob Moore approached me about teaching the class, I was excited to do it,” Shaver said. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t find that out until I got to Pierre, S.D., but it’s probably one of the most rewarding classes I’ve taken since I’ve been in law enforcement.”
Shaver said he’s looking forward to expanding D.A.R.E. next year and teaching the decision-making skills to all fifth- and sixth-graders in Antelope County.
“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t believe this program works,” he said. “We need to have something in our communities to help them know the community does care.”
Funding for the program comes from donations and volunteers. Each D.A.R.E. graduate receives a certificate and t-shirt at no expense to the students or the school. Shaver said the sky is the limit for what the program can offer, including scholarships.
Individuals or businesses who would like more information on supporting the program can contact the Antelope County Sheriff’s Department at 402-887-4148.
Nevaeh Jockens, Alyssa Buck, Tessa Whitney, Landyn Schrader, Carson Whitesel, Aiden Kuester, Austin Good, Austin Rudolf, Adrienne Parker, Izzy Smith, Maddy Brown-Lynch, Deputy John Shaver.
Front row: Ben Ofe, Ethan Schonenenberger, Brittany Olson, Lynae Koinzan, Shiloh Shabram, Carmen Reyes, Haden Wilkinson.
Not pictured: Noah Wilson.