DARE to celebrate

Thursday event honors anti-drug educators

Courtesy Photo This photo provided by Alpena Police Department Officer Tim Marquardt shows him and his dad, Alpena County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jim Marquardt, with Alpena’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education sign. The Marquardts visit fifth-grade classrooms at Alpena elementary schools and educate them about resisting drugs and peer pressure.

ALPENA — Thursday is National DARE Day and Alpena Public Schools is celebrating it next week with fifth-grade students.

DARE, which stands for Drugs Abuse Resistance Education, is a nationwide, police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children about resisting peer pressure and to live productive lives that are free of drugs and violence.

Alpena Police Department Officer Tim Marquardt said he and his dad, Alpena County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jim Marquardt, have worked with Alpena fifth-graders since his father started the local DARE program in 1989.

Marquardt said Tuesday that 18 Alpena High School senior role models will go to fifth-grade classrooms starting next week to talk to them and answer any questions they may have.

Marquardt said National DARE Day is a big deal in Alpena because a presidential proclamation is supposed to be made before Thursday.

“We started putting up National DARE Day posters just so the kids know of the significance, because I would say 98 percent of these kids probably had Alpena DARE at one point,” he said.

Alpena High senior Taylor Agius said being a DARE role model is fun because they connect with students.

“I teach dance, so I know some of them, so I see them in a different light going into the classroom and just seeing the different things that I do,” Agius said.

The fifth-graders are able to ask the seniors questions and Agius said the questions aren’t just about DARE, they are also asked about going to Thunder Bay Junior High School and what happens there.

“We only go in once to each classroom, but we see them at (DARE) graduation and seeing how they’ve advanced from the classroom visit to graduation is pretty cool, and you can tell that their confidence is higher,” Agius said.

Senior Dayna LaBell said that, when talking to the fifth-graders, they talk about themselves and answer questions.

“They can ask you a personal question for just you or for the whole group and then you give your best response on how you deal with situations,” LaBell said. “It could be about drugs and alcohol, it could be about just going into the junior high in general and what to expect there.”

Marquardt said the fifth-graders look up to the seniors. The seniors are able to spend lunch and recess with them when they’re visiting.

People can celebrate National DARE Day on Thursday by wearing clothing with the DARE logo on it or wearing a combination of red, black, and white, the official DARE colors.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.