Pictured are the 2023 DARE Scholarship Winners with current Mercer County DARE officers: Front Row: Carly Fullenkamp (Celina), Jackson Sonner (St. Henry), Amber Wendel (Marion Local), Amelia Adams (Celina), Megan Metzger (Fort Recovery); Back Row: Owen Moeller (Marion Local), Isaiah Glass (Celina), Elizabeth Huwer (St. Henry), Allison Hughes (Parkway), Bryce Stearns (Parkway)

(4-20-23) The Annual Senior DARE Scholarship Luncheon was held on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at the Mercer County Elks. Over 40 students, school staff, and guests attended the luncheon. The ten scholarship winners are: Owen Moeller (Marion Local), Isaiah Glass (Celina), Elizabeth Huwer (St. Henry), Allison Hughes (Parkway), Bryce Stearns (Parkway), Carly Fullenkamp (Celina), Jackson Sonner (St. Henry), Amber Wendel (Marion Local), Amelia Adams (Celina), Megan Metzger (Fort Recovery). 

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

Other seniors who applied for scholarships and attended were: Rebecca Broering and Megan Broering (St. Henry), Abigail Diller (Coldwater), Megan Knapke, Paul Homan, Miranda Metzger (Fort Recovery). Not present: Skyler Fokine, Kale Sudhoff, Colin Fokine, Sarah Giesige (Celina) and Madison Jacobs (Parkway).  

Guests attending in honor of the seniors were Guidance Counselor Natalie Kanney and Principal Jason Hemmelgarn – Coldwater HS; SADD advisor Julie Billenstein and Principal Tony Stahl – Ft. Recovery HS; Guidance Counselor Jenny Dippold – Marion Local HS; Guidance Counselor Lisa Ontrop– Parkway HS; Superintendent Julie Garke, Guidance Counselor Julie Overman, Secretary Sherri Ranly, SADD advisor Mindy Siefring – St. Henry HS; Captain Lori Knapke, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Doug Bertke, Coldwater Mayor; Dave Buschur, Mercer County Commissioner; Kathy Speelman, Mercer County Municipal Court Judge; Guest Speaker Joan Wedd; current DARE Booster members Jerry Kanney (president), DARE Officer Deputy Scott Geis, Laura Sanford, Mike Eyink, Casey Nuttle, Sherry Reineke, Brian Woods, and Joyce Howell.

Commendations were presented to the winners from the offices of Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor John Husted, State Representative Angela King, State Senator Matt Huffman, as well as the Mercer County DARE Boosters. 

Essays were received from 21 students. The prompt for this essay was “DARE: How it has impacted my life; how I will use these skills to contribute to society.” Applicants also had to document academic achievements and extracurricular activities that reflect the spirit and goals of DARE, provide two letters of recommendation, and have a parent, principal and guidance counselor sign their paperwork. Ten students were awarded $500 scholarships. A special thanks to Wright State University-Lake Campus’s Western Ohio Educational Foundation for yearly matching scholarships for those students who attend the Lake Campus. All non-scholarship winners each received a restaurant gift card. 

Those in attendance were also encouraged by DARE President 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 Joan Wedd, a long-time teacher at St. Henry Schools, volunteer with Mercer County Youth to Youth Retreats, and advocate and asset in the recovery community. She shared, “Addiction of any sort, and I know this from experience, is a time stealer, love smasher, goal taker and dream killer. Whatever high an addict gets off their drug of choice is fleeting and eventually destructive. I challenge you to keep on the path you have set for yourself. Get high off the natural world around you, get high from accomplishing your dreams and goals, get high from being productive members of society,  get high off of laughing with friends and loving your  families. As you move forward in your lives, I encourage you to continue to make positive choices. Remember that you are the architects of your own future. Your choices will determine your path in life, and the DARE program has given you the foundation to make wise decisions.” Joan’s message was very encouraging and we are thankful that she was able to speak at our luncheon.

Thank you to the Mercer County Elks for the donation of the meeting area and the men who served the luncheon. 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. 

All Senior D.A.R.E. attendees to the luncheon.