DARE – to succeed Students graduate program


January 16, 2014 - 12:00 AM

It was a night of celebration, and reinforcement, for the DARE graduates Wednesday evening in the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.
Students from each elementary school received their completion certificate for the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) course, and listened to several keynote speakers — including former Kansas City Chief standout Gary Spani.
Iola Administrator Carl Slaugh started the commencement by encouraging the students to stick together, and no matter what happens in life there is always the right choice and a bigger goal to reach for.
“Set high goals,” Slaugh said. “They say a person’s reach should exceed their grasp.”
Students then took to the stage when representatives from each school read their essays about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
Spani followed, saying “I’m Kansas bred and I’m proud of it.” Spani is the all-time leader in tackles for the Chiefs.
He began his presentation with three analogies.
— First, elephants are tethered by large chains when they are young, but as adults they are only tethered by a small rope. Why?
— Second, scientists separated barracudas from their food source, mackarel, by a clear glass panel. After hitting their head numerous times, the panel is removed, but the barracuda will no longer cross the boundary. Why?
— Third, a flea has the highest comparative jump of any creature on earth. But after being kept in a box, hitting its head on the roof, it will no longer jump when removed. Why?
“We get conditioned by things, don’t we,” Spani said to the students. “I think the things that hold us back from what we can really be are the imaginary obstacles.”
He encouraged the students to dream big dreams, and have a positive attitude no matter what. He referenced the Chiefs’ mascot Dan Meers, who suffered serious injuries following a stunt practice accident in November. The injuries he suffered could have — or even should have — killed him, but his attitude made all of the difference.
“I can choose to be a victim, or I can choose to learn from it,” he said. “Everything in life is a choice.”
Spani very sparingly used the words drugs, alcohol or tobacco during his speech. His intention was to show the DARE graduates that they don’t have to do what society tells them to do, or what may be expected by their peers.
“It’s your choice how you live,” he said. “There is a battle going on each and every day.”

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