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El Paso student wins statewide DARE essay contest

Lauren Wilson says she would have entered an essay contest for the statewide DARE program even if it hadn’t been a requirement for her fifth-grade class at El Paso Elementary School.

“I would have done that one for choice. Especially something like that, for a good cause,” Lauren said.

Her enthusiasm paid off.

At a recent ceremony in Manhattan, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt presented Lauren as winner of the contest.

“I was shocked,” Lauren said. “I was really nervous that day. All my friends had my back. It was really crazy to hear my name.”

For her efforts, Lauren received a plaque and $100. Plus, of course, bragging rights.

Matt Liston, district safety security officer, said every student who participates in DARE program nationally must complete an essay to graduate from the program. Liston served as the Derby Public Department’s school resource officer and DARE supervisor until this past May.

Each school that participates in the program sent in a winning essay, “and her essay was selected from all fifth-graders in Kansas,” Liston said.

The DARE program helps teach students to recognize and resist peer pressure to experiment with tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

“One of the things that we teach in DARE now is define, assess, respond and evaluate,” Liston said. “It’s just a process to help them make decisions.”

Lauren, who will be attending Derby North Middle School, said the program helps “teach us something important that is coming up in our future.”

She likes writing and “took her time on the essay,” she said.

“I made sure it was nice and edited a lot,” she said.

Lauren said she used the define, assess, respond and evaluate technique on a situation in her own life.

“I had to choose between playing a computer game with all my friends or to work on a project that was an important part of my grade at school,” Lauren said. “These steps let me take the emotion out of my decision-making and to do what was best for myself. I finished the project and then had fun with my friends. That is one of the things that DARE teaches and can be used in any situation. But the program is so much more than that. It could be life-threatening decisions as well. Do I take the drugs offered by people at a party or do I listen to friends and drink the alcohol? No, I define the situation, I assess what will be best for me and the choices available, I respond with my choice and I look back and evaluate the situation and see what I can change or do better in the future.”

Lauren’s mother, Kim, is a teacher at El Paso, and her father, Marc, is a retired officer with the Derby Police Department.

“I knew the gist of what the program was, but I learned a lot from Lauren because she got in there and learned the nuts and bolts of the program,” Marc Wilson said. “She actually taught me a lot about it.”

Medallion Hunt set to test treasure seekers

For people who like solving riddles and getting a prize for doing so, a new Medallion Hunt in Derby may be just their challenge.

Set to start Sept. 1 and go through Sept. 7 – or whenever the medallion is found – the event is part of the city’s 150th, or sesquicentennial, anni-versary celebration.

“I think it’s a fun idea,” said Derby Public Library’s youth services assis-tant Hannah Adamson, who is heading up the effort.

When Adamson pitched the event to the library’s director, Eric Gus-tafson, he was “all over it,” she said.

The library is sponsoring the event, which features a $150 cash prize for the winner, or winners.

One aspect that will narrow the search down, at least somewhat, is that the object will be hidden in one of the city’s parks.

That’s so people don’t have to trespass on private property and also serves as a means of introducing Derby’s parks to those who may not be familiar with them.

“With the number of parks we have, there will be no shortage of hiding places,” Adamson said.

Adamson said the medallion will not be out in the open and well hid-den, but won’t require digging or any defacing of property to find.

Most parks are open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. so if you’re a night owl, you will need to watch your hunting in the wee hours.

On the other hand, if the clues lead you to Madison Avenue Central Park or Warren Riverview Park, those two are open all hours.

The clues will be posted daily on the library’s various social media sites and will get easier as the days pass.

Adamson confessed that she doesn’t have a plan if it isn’t found, but given the skill of hunters in other contests, is confident that Derby’s sleuths will be up to the task at hand.

And don’t worry, the clue process won’t be like trying to break into Fort Knox as “we’re not going to make it super crazy hard.”

As for who is writing the clues, that will remain top secret – and it isn’t her.

“I’m not allowed to tell you that,” she said.

The process will be in-house in another way: the library staff is making the 2 1/2-inch medallion itself using its 3-D printer.

The hunt has worked well with other cities, especially the famed Wichita Riverfest contest, she said, and Adamson said she kind of remembers it from the old Derby Days event.

Such activities are popular because “people just like to hunt for things with clues,” she said.

Of course, people can hunt for it on their own, but it’s fun in a group, she added.

“It can be quite family-oriented,” she said.

The idea for a hunt came about at a brainstorming session to come up with ideas for the city’s anniversary celebration and, with others recalling previous success, the event seemed like a natural, she said.

“People just really enjoy it,” she said.

And if this re-introduction edition of a medallion search proves to be both popular and a success, it could be repeated in the future, even without a 150th anniversary banner to wrap around it.

New DRC pricing structure set to launch Aug. 19

After voting to change its pricing structure at its April board meeting, the Derby Recreation Center is set to debut the changes at the start of fall registration on Monday, Aug. 19.

The changes will allow customers to use any part of the DRC or attend any baseline fitness class at no charge beyond the set annual, daily or monthly fee. The change was passed by a unanimous board vote and marks the first rate adjustment since 2007.

Any customer that has purchased an annual membership prior to August 19 will automatically have access to these classes and additional amenities without any additional fees. The new pricing would not affect these customers until their next renewal date in 2020. Customers that have selected auto-pay and month-to-month charges prior to Monday will see changes on their next bill.

Speciality fitness classes and water exercise classes at Rock River Rapids will still require additional fees.

The DRC is holding an open house on Saturday, Aug. 24 to give a free look at what is available at its facility. It’ll be open regular business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) for anyone to use any part of the facility, but it will have raffle drawings, prizes, complimentary food and adult and youth activities from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

EDITOR's NOTE: Want to learn more about pricing models for the upcoming changes? Check out our previous story here