Pictured are the 2019 DARE Scholarship Winners with current Mercer County DARE officers: Front Row: Haley Heitkamp (Marion Local), Rachel Olberding (Celina), Elizabeth Schoen (Coldwater), Leah Roll (St. Henry); Back: Deputy Sue Miller, Faith Rollins (Parkway), Grace Knapke (Marion Local), Cam Romer (Fort Recovery), Maddie Kuehne (Celina), Owen Sheridan (Fort Recovery), and Deputy Don Bird; Not present: Andrew Schoen (Coldwater)
The Annual Senior D.A.R.E. Scholarship Luncheon was held on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, at the Mercer County Elks. Over 70 students, school staff, and guests attended. The luncheon honored students who have remained true to their 5th grade D.A.R.E. promise which states; the student will remain drug, tobacco, and alcohol free.
D.A.R.E. Scholarship applications and essays were received from 34 students. The prompt for the 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 application. Ten students were awarded $500 scholarships. All non-scholarship winners each received a coupon compliments of McDonalds.
The ten scholarship winners are: Haley Heitkamp (Marion Local High School), Rachel Olberding (Celina High School), Elizabeth Schoen (Coldwater High School), Leah Roll (St. Henry High School), Faith Rollins (Parkway High School), Grace Knapke (Marion Local High School), Cam Romer (Fort Recovery High School), Maddie Kuehne (Celina High School), Owen Sheridan (Fort Recovery High School), and Andrew Schoen (Coldwater High School).
Other seniors present included: Celina High School: Chase Stephens, Megan Morden, Bailey Exman, Emma Lutz, Logan Binkley, Mya Lockwood,
Maddy Luebke, Shelby Sinclair, Bransen Miller, Noah Shrock, Lauren Cubberley, Kimberly Gladhill, Micaela Wenning, Nathan Fortkamp, and Caleb Suhr; Coldwater High School: AJ Kunk, Marcus Bruns, Mitchell Niekamp, Isaac Osterfeld; Ft. Recovery High School: Jason Siefring, Elise Gehle, Cassandra Poeppelman, Faith Kahlig, Kayla Lennartz, Clayton Pearson; Marion Local High School: Melissa Wynk, Allison Heitkamp; St. Henry High School: Jessica Mestemaker, Brianne Urwin, Greg Howe, Evan Good, Zach Nieport, Tyler Broering, Zach Ontrop, Jordan Puthoff, Kylie Miller.
Guests attending in honor of the seniors were Celina High School Principal Phil Metz and SADD advisor Michelle Langmeyer; Coldwater High School Guidance Counselor Natalie Kanney and Principal Jason Hemmelgarn; Ft. Recovery High School SADD advisor Julie Billenstein and Principal Bill Overla; Marion Local HS Principal Tim Goodwin, Parkway High School Principal Brian Fortkamp; St. Henry High School Principal Eric Rosenbeck, Guidance Counselor Betsy Armstrong, SADD advisor Mindy Seifring; Fort Recovery Police Chief Jared Laux, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office Captain Doug Timmerman, Coldwater Mayor Joe Knapschaefer, St. Henry Police Department’s Michael Link, Wright State-Lake Campus Gretchen Rentz; current D.A.R.E. Booster members Jerry Kanney (president), D.A.R.E. Officers: Deputy Sue Miller and Deputy Don Bird, Amy Miller, Laura Sanford, Mike Eyink, Casey Nuttle, and Sherry Reineke.
Commendations were presented to the winners from the offices of Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor John Husted, Representative Susan Manchester, Senator Matt Huffman, as well as the Mercer County D.A.R.E. Boosters.
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. Those in attendance were also encouraged by Jerry Kanney’s story about Alex Sheen who created a social movement and nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept. This movement is called, “Because I said I would.” Jerry encouraged the youth to stick with promises they make, even when it gets difficult.
The guest speaker this year was Jordan Thompson, 2008 Parkway graduate, former Detroit Lions football player and current carpenter on HGTV “While You Were Out.” He stated that 20 years ago as a 5th grade student, he made the DARE commitment. Jordan reported that involvement in a variety of activities helped him keep his DARE pledge through high school and college. Accountability was also used to keep him on track. He said to “choose friends wisely” and quoted something a coach once said,
“Show me your friends and I will show you your future.” Jordan attended Columbus University. He made a promise “to carry morals, values, and faith with me.” As Jordan was packing for college, he ran across an article that said “remember who you are and whose you are.” He remembered that he was “a child of God” and he wanted to reflect that in his decisions. Jordan said he was asked to use alcohol and other drugs in college but the more he said “no thanks” the easier it was and people stopped asking him. Jordan graduated with his engineering degree and was ranked 1st in his class in college. He reported that it all came back to him sticking to his morals and values. He “had to be on his ‘A’ game all the time.” He had to have several surgeries in his life and at one point, a friend tried to convince Jordan that he needed to share some of his pain pills with him. Jordan said no. He then explained that 3 years ago, that friend died of a heroin overdose and his addiction started off with pain pills. He had a clear conscience knowing he did not aid in his friend’s addiction and desire to continue drugs. Jordan also believes that it is okay to be different. He said several times that he was able to be successful because he had a “clear mind and clear body.” Jordan “did not do this to prove others wrong, but to prove himself right.”
Thank you to the Mercer County Elks for the donation of the banquet facility and meal: Kirk Stucke, 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.