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D.A.R.E.: Real life lessons in the classroom

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — It can be hard to be a fifth-grader. If communication is just talking, and you are being teased, and you yell at the kids teasing you—well, that wasn't effective communication. But what *should* you do? Lessons like these—and the traditional ones: just say no to drugs—are a part of every Sheridan County students' fifth grade experience. Today, with a little help from a donation from the BNSF Railway, the program went on, business as usual. Except, as one student say, "D.A.R.E. is really fun!" Dep. Sandy Fitzpatrick and Dep. Clint Salyards are both School Resource Officers who juggle a 10-lesson plan in every fifth grade classroom in Sheridan County School Districts 1, 2 and 3. "It is very rewarding," Fitzpatrick said. "You just get to know these kids, and then, years later, they will come up to you and give you a hug. BNSF Division Train Master Bill Badenhoop said his organization likes to donate to worthwhile programs in the community, and gave $5,000 to the D.A.R.E. program. "We like to recognize the good things going on in the community," Badenhoop said. "It is a pretty big deal when we get donations for DARE," Fitzpatrick said, adding that only through school district, private and community support is the program possible. Back to the classroom lesson for the day—the fifth graders were talking about "Sofia," a fictional fifth-grader who is dealing with personal pressure, peer pressure and stress. "What are some effective ways to communicate?" Fitzpatrick asked? And the brainstorming began. [image: Inline image 3] *Fifth grade DARE students at Coffeen Elementary. / Pitchengine Communities* [image: Inline image 4] *Silly faces! Fifth grade DARE students at Coffeen Elementary. / Pitchengine Communities* [image: Inline image 2] *From left, Sheridan County Sheriff's Deputy Sandy Fitzpatrick, Sheridan County Sheriff Dave Hofmeier, BNSF Division Train Master Bill Badenhoop and