D.A.R.E. is back
Rose teaches students how to make good choices, handle peer pressure
WEBSTER CITY – An observer driving by the Webster City Middle School could be forgiven for wondering if someone got in serious trouble when they see a Webster City Police Department vehicle parked out front several times a week.
It’s not there to deal with trouble, though.
Its driver, Senior Patrol Officer Dylan Rose, is there to help fifth-grade students avoid trouble.
Rose is the school’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer. It’s his first year teaching the 10-week D.A.R.E. program and the first time the program is back in the school after a hiatus from the previous officer leaving and the COVID shutdowns.
Rose has been with the Webster City Police Department since July 2017 and began the D.A.R.E. classes in January 2022.
“I just got certified in September of 2021 to be a D.A.R.E. officer,” he said as he looked around the library while setting up for a session in the familiar hallways. “It’s nice to come back and see some of the teachers I had here rather than being a student.”
Rose said that D.A.R.E has changed in recent years to keep up with changes.
“Society is changing year after year,” he said. “Things are not the way they would have been when I was here 12 years ago. It’s completely changed. They revamped it about seven years ago. It’s more focused on new information.”
Some of the current issues that are being seen in schools, such as vaping, didn’t even exist when the program was first written in the early 1980s. According to D.A.R.E’s website, the program has also been changed to a more interactive program rather than a series of lectures. It’s also expanded beyond just drugs and alcohol.
“I teach them how to respond to peer pressure, how to respond to bullying, how to make the right decisions and be a good citizen,” Rose said. “It’s not just focused on the drugs. I teach them how to resist going into those bad decisions, how to say no. It’s important for the rest of their lives.”
Rose said the students have responded well to the program.
“The students have been fantastic,” he said. “It’s exceeded all of our expectations. We started from scratch.”
He said that both he and the students have gained from the experience.
“The first few weeks I might have three volunteers,” he said. “Now I have hands all through class. They’re not afraid. Some of them have really come out of their shell.”
“I was never a public speaker,” he said. “It’s changed me as a person as well. The kids see me on the street and go, ‘Hey Officer Rose, how’s it going?'”
Rose said that the middle school teachers and administration have been very helpful in getting him set up, finding spots in the schedule and just being there with encouragement and help.
“I have the staff here that works with me and helps me with every need,” he said, “even pencils.”
As might be expected, the students are curious about Rose’s tools of the trade.
“They ask about the Taser, how many people I’ve arrested and how fast does my squad car go,” he said.
Rose said it’s important the students see him as a person.
“You have to be human,” he said.
He works on building up trust between himself and the students, stressing that honesty with him and honesty with them is the way to go.
Middle School Assistant Principal Will Brock is happy to have D.A.R.E back in his school.
Part of him wanting D.A.R.E. back was the increase in the popularity of vaping.
“We saw an expansion with vaping and other things kids shouldn’t be doing,” Brock said. “They didn’t know what they’re putting into their bodies.”
He wants his students to have the program be a positive.
“The more times we can get a positive message to them, the more it will stick and they’ll do the right thing,” Brock said. “They’re making positive decisions and applying it to their own life. Rose is very much a positive role model for the students.”
Rose knows that not all of the 96 fifth-grade students enrolled in the program will spend the rest of their school career and life making every decision the right decision. It’s something he’s had to accept.
“You can’t stop all of them from making bad decisions,” Rose said. “But if I can help stop one, help curve their future in the right direction. If you can make a difference in one kid’s life, then you’re doing your job. That’s what’s important to me.”
For those who graduated from the D.A.R.E program in the past, one of the highlights was earning their D.A.R.E T-shirt on graduation day. Even with the program contents being revamped to reflect the changes in the society, that tradition remains.
“We still have the T-shirts,” Rose said.