ACE will replace DARE this spring in Ripon

Students wear colorful sunglasses while performing a class rap during the May 2015 DARE program, which was the final year led by Ripon Officer Mark Preissner. It turned out to be the penultimate year for the DARE program itself in Ripon. School Resource Officer Lindsey Michels and the Ripon Police Department, in conjunction with Murray Park/Quest Elementary School staff, will implement a new program this spring: Anti-Crime Education (ACE). The program was developed by the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department but will be customized to suit Ripon’s needs.

For 25 years, Ripon fifth graders have participated in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program.

But the times, they are a-changin’.

“I always joked that when I started here, our evidence room was filled with beer,” Ripon Police Capt. Bill Wallner said. “Now it’s filled with stuff involving heroin, meth, harder drugs. So the landscape, as far as the things we deal with in the community, have changed on the drug scene.”

“[T]imes have changed,” Murray Park/Quest Elementary Principal Renee Bunge said, “and so what in the past would have seemed like more of a middle school issue, those things are just paring themselves down to the younger levels, and so we need to educate early ...

“For some of these issues, [if] you wait until middle school, it’s too late. We need to be able to teach our kids early to have the greatest chance of being proactive in our approach versus reactive.”

Part of being proactive is creating a flexible curriculum more attuned to the needs of the community.

Beginning this spring, the DARE program will be replaced with Anti-Crime Education (ACE), a program originated by the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department.

The idea is to develop the material to focus more on issues that may impact Ripon students’ lives and families.

Read more about the ACE program in the Feb. 16, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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