Chatfield sixth graders complete DARE program with special ceremony last week

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson shows the students how to do the "DARE cheer" at the close of the DARE graduation.

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Chatfield Police Officer Kevin Landorf presents DARE graduation awards to his 2019 DARE class last Tuesday afternoon.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

“Our sixth graders have done an awesome job in DARE this year. DARE stands for Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education, but while we did touch on the effects of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, we learned the definition of social skills, taking risks, about talking confidently with others, being aware of your non-verbal communications, how to safely report bullying and not be a bystander,” related Chatfield Police Officer Kevin Landorf.

He addressed parents and friends of Chatfield Elementary School DARE graduates last Tuesday afternoon, May 7, as the students completed their DARE session with Landorf before advancing to seventh grade this coming fall.

He told about how he taught his students not to give in to peer pressure, and most importantly, to value themselves.

“I introduced the students to Mallory Grossman, a 12-year-old girl. She was bullied, and too many people did nothing to help her, and she took her own life,” Landorf shared. “If you saw how wide these kids’ eyes got that day…I dared them to be the hero of the Mallorys of the world and not to be a bully and make fun of someone else’s pain.”

Continuing, Landorf said, “Sixth graders, as you graduate from DARE, it’s the end of your elementary career, and the world is open in seventh grade. I wish you all the best as you start high school.”

Certificates of recognition and program completion were then handed out. Students receiving graduation certificates included Kathy Hanson’s class with Addison Allen, Isabelle Armenta, Ella Bakken, Ethan Cole, Haiden Copeman, Arianna Dornink, Grace Goddard, Quintin Hynes, Elliana Junge, Tobin McMahon, Cadyn Musel, Leland Powell, Ryan Rindels, Kylin Schroeder, Tyler Simon, Lacey Stailey, Makkena Urban, Essence Williams-Bell and Clara Wilson. Jodie Daniels’ students were Reggie Allen, Carly Backen, Grace Boelter, Shawn Budd, Dallas Burnap, Cael Campion, Ben Carrier, Lelani Clifford, Megan Drogemuller, Adia Evans, Grayson Fister, Aiden Johnsrud, Chase Johnston, Kendall Knutson, Emily Kumpf, Jaelyn LaPlante, Lillian Lewis, Kylie McGill, Ayden Miner, Charlotte Oeltjen, Caleb Olson, Britten Ruskell and Jake Stevens. Paul Wagner’s class included Samantha Baker, Anna Bernau, Zachary Bond, Kathryn Briggs, Clara Brogan, Trevor Budd, Gavin Buske, William Campion, Martin Cardenas, Rebecca Copeman, Carys Danninger, Ethan Eickhoff, Brady Irish, Katryn Johnson, Theodore Kivimagi, Masyn Kreter, Kierden Long, Olivia McBroom, Hailey Schafer, Carson Vandewalker and Nicole Vreeman. Ann Shanahan’s class includes Javier Berg, Katerina Brewer, Julia Culbertson, Ella Dammen, Emily Fitzgerald, Shawntae Goldsmith, Mya Henry, Rachel Johnson, Madelin Mullikin, Westin Nolte, Keegan Patten, Alden Pearson, Cole Ramaker, Carson Rowland, Johnny Schieffelbein, Thane Schild, Aidon Schmoll, Ava Siebenaler, Taiten Siewert and Aviana Thompson.

Landorf outlined each student had to write an essay on the 2019 DARE theme, “DARE to Be Kind,” and four students’ essays were chosen – one from each class – with Makkena Urban, Aiden Johnsrud, Masyn Kreter and Westin Nolte writing award-winners.

Additionally, Chatfield Elementary has the distinction of being the home school of Anna Bernau, the state DARE poster contest winner who got to throw out the first pitch at the April 28 Minnesota Twins game.

A drawing was then held to find a “forever home” for Daren the Lion, the plush mascot of the DARE program who was sought-after for hugging during DARE classes each week and who eventually went home with lucky girl Clara Wilson.

Landorf concluded, “Congratulations to all you kids who’ve graduated. I’ll watch you continue to grow into adults and hope that you can be the best that you can be.”

Landorf, McBroom and the sixth grade staff expressed appreciation to the local businesses that donated to the DARE program, including Dairy Queen, Cabin Coffee, Threads and Scheels, to Fillmore County Sheriff John DeGeorge and Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson for attending.

McBroom shared his gratitude for Landorf’s willingness to meet students of all ages at the elementary whenever he’s not busy patrolling Chatfield. “Officer Landorf spends a lot of time with our sixth graders, but he spends a lot more time here than that,” he concluded. “I really feel he connects our law enforcement officers with the students in the classroom. A lot of times, he can be seen right at the front of the school, giving knuckles and high-fives.”