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Pictured are the 2018 DARE Scholarship Winners with current Mercer County DARE officers: Front: Kyle Naumann, Krista Walterbusch, Caroline Moorman, Trey Wolters, Dillon Robbins

Back row: Deputy Sue Miller, Blake Germann, Alyssa Boeckman, Shaun Olberding, Hope Ebbing, Ashley Robinson, and Deputy Don Bird.

The Annual Senior D.A.R.E. Scholarship Luncheon was held on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, at the Mercer County Elks. Over 50 students, school staff, and guests attended the luncheon. The ten scholarship winners are: Kyle Naumann – St. Henry High School; Krista Walterbusch, Caroline Moorman, Trey Wolters – Coldwater High School; Dillon Robbins, Blake Germann, Alyssa Boeckman, Shaun Olberding, Hope Ebbing, and Ashley Robinson – Celina High School

The luncheon honors students who have remained true to their 5th grade D.A.R.E. promise. This promise says the student will remain drug, tobacco, and alcohol free.

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Other seniors present included: From Celina HS: McKenna Black, Victoria Knapke, Kassidy Fark, Sara Wenning, Paige Duncan, Hannah Rasawehr; from Coldwater HS: Jordan Kline, Jessica Langenkamp, Kourtney Diller; From Ft. Recovery HS: Max Klingshirn, Curtis Grube, Jessica Wendel, Nathan Thornhill; From Parkway HS: Laura Barrett, Gabriel Hagens (applied for scholarship but not present); From St. Henry HS: Karlee Staugler

Guests attending in honor of the seniors were Principal Phil Metz and SADD advisor Michelle Langmeyer – Celina HS; Guidance Counselor Natalie Kanney and Principal Jason Hemmelgarn – Coldwater HS; SADD advisor Julie Billenstein and Principal Marcus Overman – Ft. Recovery HS; Principal Brian Fortkamp and retired 5th grade teacher Sheryl Frahm– Parkway HS; Principal Eric Rosenbeck, Guidance Counselor Betsy Armstrong, SADD advisor Mindy Seifring– St. Henry HS; Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey, St. Henry Police Chief Bob Garman, Fort Recovery Polic Chief Jared Laux,  Courtney Donovan and Gretchen Rentz – Wright State-Lake Campus; Former D.A.R.E. Booster members, Ken and Violet Taylor; and current D.A.R.E. Booster members Jerry Kanney (president), D.A.R.E. Officers Sue Miller and Don Bird, Amy Miller, Laura Sanford, Casey Nuttle, Kyle Kunk, Joyce Howell.

Commendations were presented to the winners from the offices of Governor John Kasich; Representative Keith Faber, as well as the Mercer County D.A.R.E. Boosters.

Essays were received from 22 students. The prompt for this essay was ““D.A.R.E.: How it has impacted my life; how I will use these skills to contribute to society.” They also had to document academic achievements and extracurricular activities that reflect the spirit and goals of D.A.R.E., provide two letters of recommendation, and have a parent, principal and guidance counselor sign their paperwork. Ten students were awarded $500 scholarships. All non-scholarship winners each received a coupon compliments of McDonalds.

Gretchen Rentz, Wright State-Lake Campus and Western Ohio Educational Foundation, explained the matching scholarships available to those students who will be attending the Lake Campus Branch.

The guest speaker this year was Joyce Howell, retired teacher and current DARE Booster member. She congratulated the students for their positive decision that they made for themselves and how difficult it is to do. She reflected that alcohol and the pressure to drink is all around them and often accepted by both peers and adults. Joyce was on the scholarship selection committee (which also included Kyle Kunk and Sherry Reineke) and started off talking about “how” the youth made this commitment. From the essays written she came up with the following: the students really like themselves, they developed some talents and interests, they have commitments they are willing to keep (including their DARE promise), they have purpose for their lives, and they have support from others. Then she posed the question:

Why” did you keep your promise? This was because they respect themselves, respect the DARE promise, they had people that they respect that they didn’t want to let down. Also, the youth were responsible, they have too much going for them to want to risk losing it; they “rose above the stupid choices” others around them were making (sometimes even their own family members), and they “wanted to BE role models and had role models” to follow. Joyce also mentioned that “some lost friends along the way, but gained so much more,” including being closer to their family and growing in their faith. “Some gained new friends that think like [them].” Because of this, [they] overcame hardships” and developed a sense of pride in their choices. She asked the students how they felt sitting in the room being recognized today. The students shared they felt proud, accomplished, awesome, grateful. She then commented, “You can’t buy that, drink that or take a pill” for those good feelings. She left the youth with the following advice: “continue to like yourself: the minute you stop developing your talents, interests and commitments” will be when you stop liking yourself. “Perfection is not attainable and never compare yourself to other people.” It’s noisy out there in the world…when you feel that pressure to make certain choices, close your eyes and think. “In the silence you will find the direction you need to go.”

Thank you to the Mercer County Elks for the donation of the meeting area and the luncheon: Kirk Stucke, Bill Link, Gary Depweg who were also all present from the Elks. The Mercer County D.A.R.E. Boosters would also like to thank all merchants, individuals, and others who continually support this program through their donations and time. Special thanks to McDonald’s Restaurants and Wright State University-Lake Campus’s Western Ohio Educational Foundation for their donations to the D.A.R.E. Scholarship program.