Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna Police Officer Tobin Brennan quizzes Kelsey Beaudin, Alexis Gomes, David Schramm and Logan Steiner DARE questions in Jake Eveland's fifth grade class at Redoubt Elementary School in Soldotna Wednesday.

Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna Police Officer Tobin Brennan quizzes Kelsey Beaudin, Alexis Gomes, David Schramm and Logan Steiner DARE questions in Jake Eveland's fifth grade class at Redoubt Elementary School in Soldotna Wednesday.

Elementary students complete D.A.R.E. program

  • By DAN BALMER
  • Saturday, May 3, 2014 10:47pm
  • News

One hundred-fifty fifth-graders walked across the stage to receive their diplomas after completion of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education course Friday at Soldotna High School.

Prior to graduation, students from Redoubt Elementary School put their knowledge to the test with a review game during their final D.A.R.E. class Wednesday.

Soldotna police officer Tobin Brennan, a three-year D.A.R.E. instructor, quizzed the students in Jake Eveland’s class on the definition of words they learned during the 10-week course. Groups of four responded to answers to words like trust, communication and peer pressure.

“Who do you go to when you need help?” Brennan asked the class. Students filled out their final worksheet listing the important people in their lives who they trusted to include in their help network. Parents, teachers, friends and coaches all made the list as people with experience the class went to for advice.

Brennan said while one of his lessons is to get students to understand that drugs and alcohol are bad, it is not just the “just say no” program. For one hour a week during the 10-week program, Brennan spends one day on health facts about alcohol and tobacco while the rest of the course is devoted to the decision making process.

“It is all about good decision making,” he said. “I help them define a problem, assess it, figure out what your choices are, responding to it and evaluating and determine whether it’s good or bad.”

Brennan said he does not sugarcoat anything and shares real-life experiences he has experienced, which allows the class to build trust with him.

“I’m real honest with the kids when I talk to them,” he said. “I don’t fake stories about my life. I tell them I was addicted to nicotine for 13 years of my life.”

With six classes from three schools, Redoubt, Soldotna Elementary and K-Beach Elementary, Brennan shook hands with 150 students Friday night who fulfilled their pledge to “just say no.”

Brennan selected six student essays, one from each class that best demonstrated the D.A.R.E. message. The writer of the most outstanding essay was presented with a new trek mountain bike courtesy of Beemun’s. The Soldotna Rotary paid for and donated the bike to the essay winner. Brennan presented the top six students with Darren the lion, the stuffed mascot that drives around in his patrol car all year.

At the start of the D.A.R.E. course, Brennan said he lets the kids ask him questions about his job. At the beginning of every class, he answers one question out of a box of anonymous submissions. For his last class with Eveland’s group, he shared a story of how he once got stuck in a jail cell.

“It is a fulfilling experience to work with kids and have a positive interaction,” he said. “(As a police officer) I am used to dealing with a traumatic event and responding to that.”

Eveland said his class always looked forward to having Officer Brennan come in and were always prepared with their D.A.R.E. workbook at the start of the day without being asked.

“The kids love it when I announce its D.A.R.E. day,” he said. “The message is beneficial because it is not only teaching them the importance of staying away from drugs and alcohol, but is also teaching them important life lessons such as: how to deal with stress and how to communicate with peers which is vital as the kids move to middle school and into adulthood.”

Following graduation, the 150 students dressed in their D.A.R.E. T-shirts celebrated their graduation with a 12-hour lock-in at the high school where students participated in activities such as swimming, basketball and table tennis. At 1 a.m. the kids settled in for a movie in the auditorium then the chaperons separated the boys and girls to get some sleep before the parents picked them up Saturday morning.

The lock-in is a fundraiser, sponsored by the Soldotna swim team.

“It is a fun experience for the kids,” Brennan said. “I am one of the few that doesn’t sleep at all. I have to make sure everyone is safe. The kids just love it. It’s a way for them to celebrate all their hard work.”

Reach Dan Balmer at dan.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com

Soldotna police officer Tobin Brennan teaches the last DARE class of the year for Jake Eveland's fifth grade class at Redoubt Elementary School Wednesday. Brennan spoke to the students about the importanace of having a support network.

Soldotna police officer Tobin Brennan teaches the last DARE class of the year for Jake Eveland’s fifth grade class at Redoubt Elementary School Wednesday. Brennan spoke to the students about the importanace of having a support network.

More in News

Alaska Department of Fish and Game logo. (Graphic by Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Board of Fisheries approves Kenai River king salmon action plan

The plan adds bait restrictions for in-river fisheries, doubles the sport bag limit for sockeye salmon, and adds a swath of restrictions to the commercial setnet fishery

The Kenai Municipal Airport is seen on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
New Grant Aviation planes to double service’s flight capacity

The first of two Cessna 208B EX Grand Caravans will start transporting passengers on Monday

Stickers are available for voters at the Kenai No. 1 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to hold ‘I Voted’ sticker design contest

City council members approved the program during their Wednesday night meeting

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of a bill increasing state funds for public education in the Alaska House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bill seeking to bump use of Alaska Performance Scholarship clears the House with unanimous support

The money is awarded to high-performing high school graduates to help pay for postsecondary education at participating institutions in Alaska

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

Travis Every, top left, speaks in support of fishing opportunity for the east side setnet fishery before the State Board of Fisheries at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local fishers talk conservation, opportunity before Board of Fisheries in Anchorage

Local fishers from the Kenai Peninsula traveled to Anchorage this weekend to… Continue reading

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman bill would pay bonuses to nationally certified teachers

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that the bonus program would apply to about 215 of Alaska’s estimated 7,315 teachers — about 3%

Alaska senators meet with members of the media to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

A map displays a wide-ranging special weather statement, published Tuesday by the National Weather Service, covering Southcentral Alaska. (Map courtesy of National Weather Service)
Strong winds, low wind chills forecast through Friday

Wind chills over night may reach as low as -20 to -40 degrees in much of Southcentral

Most Read