The 2009 D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Graduation for Purdy, Wheaton and Southwest sixth grade students was held on Tuesday, May 8 in the Purdy High School gymnasium.
After 31 graduation ceremonies and 16 years of service, Barry County DARE Officer Dana Kammerlohr tearfully gave her last speach to graduates.
"This is going to be hard," Kammerlohr said in an attempt to hold back tears.
"It took a dream to get us here today. There is power in our dreams and through those dreams there is power to make them come true," Kammerlohr said. "Your future is ahead of you. At your age, be aware of things and always remember to stop and think before you act.
Kammerlohr urged the students to make "right" decisions.
"Positive goals and dreams will take you where you want to go. Drugs could take you to places that you may not come back from," Kammerlohr said. "Dare to do what is right. Dare to stand up tall and fight for what is true. Spread your wings and fly. I believe in each one of you."
Turning her attention to parents and grandparents of the graduates, Kammerlohr said, "Children need heroes. There needs to be one in their everyday life."
"Each one, young and old, can make a difference. As adults, be a positive role model, Kammerlohr added. We all need people to look up to as friends, parents, grandparents and teachers.
"Children are our future. Show them you believe in them. Each one of us need to have a hero.
Kammerlohr then turned her attention back to the students. Single flowers were laid out on a table in front of the graduates. She asked each student to get a flower and take it to their hero.
As the song "Hero" was playing in the background, emotions ran deep as hugs and kisses were shared between the graduates and the heroes in their lives.
As a requirement to graduate, each student had to write an essay about what they learned from the DARE program.
A winning essay was selected from each DARE class with an overall winner selected from each school. The winning essays were read by the students during the graduation. Each of the winners received a medal during the ceremony.
Jazmine Rodriquez, Cash Skiles and Kelton Miller had the winning essays from Purdy with Miller's essay selected as the overall winner.
Skyler Scates and Tyler Pendergraft had the winning essays from Wheaton. Scates's essay was selected as the overall winner.
Jessica Henderson, Kayna McNabb and Tanisha Plunk had the winning essays from Southwest. Henderson's essay was selected as the overall winner.
In addition, special recognition was given to James Schad, of Purdy.
"I am very proud of this student," said Kammerlohr.
As part of the ceremony, students performed a hula-hoop exercise and a ball-passing game for attendees.
Crisol Aldava, Lane Andrews, Jeffrey Austin, Stephanie Ball, Quintin Booth, Taylor Burch, Michael Cananles, Zaira Carrillo, Mallorie Carver, Dustin Clevenger, Madison DelosSantos, Katelyn Diaz, Dawson Fulp, Leonardo Garcia, Stephanie Gaucin, Ana Gomez, Joes Daniel Gomez, Randi Harkins, Samantha Hein, Jayse Henderson, Billie House, Brayden Jones, Trisha Jones, Haley McCord, Kelton Miller, Kaitlyn Moller.
Robert Moody, Jaden Pankratz, Lino Perez, Kailey Pettit, Edith Ramirez, Seth Rickman, Lucas Ridenour, Juazuin Robles, Jazmine Rodriguez, Collin Rupp, Oscar Salas, James Schad, Cash Skiles, Xena Smith, Micayla Staponski, Makayla Sullivan, Jacob Terry, Shelby Thomas, Carla Velasquez, Jerica Wall, Mathew Watson, Megan Whitcomb, Lucas White, Katherine Wise, Mai Yang and Narai Yang.
Kelly Alvarado, Brandon Anderson, Justin Beck, Macy Brattin, Yesenia Castro, Kimberly Day, Krista Dunegan, Bryce England, McKinnah Freeman, Andres Gomez, John Kimbrough, Sonja Lee, Anastasia Lowry, Kayla Mason, Jared Mathes, Tyler McGarrah, Trea Nimmo, Aracely Nunez, Tyler Pendergraft, Joseph Robbins, Skyler Scates, Trevis Schoelzel, Hunter Taylor, Kendrick Xiong, Akim Yang and Lyda Yang.
Patrice Babcock, Cory Ball, Kasandra Barber, Blake Barnes, Stormie Barnett, Chevy Beaver, Colt Beck, Tyler Bernard, Jerod Black, Ivy Burnett, Alycea Corn, Christopher Craig, Paul Cunningham, Thomas Daniels, Daniel Davis, Summer Dover, Nathan England, Cortney Evans, Zachary Evans, Haleigh Fields, Hannah Fields, Michael Fletcher.
Lindsey Fosse, Lauren "Ashlynd" Gentry, McKenzie Harvey, Jessican Henderson, Kara Hendrix, Ashley Holliday, Brittney Holiday, Nicole Ickes, Tyler Jermain, Anthony Johnson, Ashley Keithley, Johnny Kidwell, Cameron Kuncl, Antasialyn Liwanag, Chase Logan, Brittany Martin Colton McCasland, Samuel McGarrah, Tommas McGuire, Kayna McNabb, Zachary Miles, Shannon Mitchell, Dustin Morgan.
Jessica Morgan, Mary Morrone, John Mulkey, Michael Pendergraft, Jurden Phillips, Colton Pippin, Tanisha Plunk, Scott Reed, Marcella Richardson, Ashley Roe, Austin Ross, Bradley Sammarco, Anna Selee, James Sellars, Thomas Sickles, Dakota Smith, Corey Stanley, Sangelina Taylor, Kyle Thomas, Dakota Tice, Jacob Tillman, Tristan Wallace and Matthew Young.
Each student was presented with a DARE graduation certificate.
With Kammerlohr retiring from her DARE post to take the position of Cassville Police Chief, Larry Stockton has been named as the new Barry County DARE Officer.