When four Estherville Lincoln Central fifth-grade classes took a pledge Monday to not use drugs or alcohol, they were making a promise to their families and society - but even more important, a promise to themselves.
They were promising to give themselves a shot at life, an even chance at accomplishing whatever it is that they want in life.
And, of course, alcohol and drugs can keep them from accomplishing their goals.
This year's D.A.R.E. training also included a component on bullying, which is only natural. Bullies rely on the approval of peers, and if kids can learn not to give bullies attention as well as avoid drugs and alcohol, they'll be better able to accomplish what they want in life.
Ironically, it's the "odd" kids who stand out from the crowd. It's the "odd" kids who are generally more creative. They aren't taken in by trends. They're the future musicians, writers and artists. They're the ones who can step back and see society for what it really is and tell us when we're off track.
That's why odd people are one of society's greatest assets. And we don't have nearly enough of them.
Hopefully, most of this year's ELC fifth-grade classes will decide to remain "odd" and buck the trend when they're pressured to try alcohol and drugs later in life. Hopefully, they'll think back to when they were 10 or 11 and shook a police officer's hand and remember him as their friend. Hopefully they'll remember signing a piece of paper - that really was more than a piece of paper - and how they promised to stay away from alcohol and drugs. And hopefully they'll remember petting a drug detection dog named Max and think of him as a friendly young dog - and not a threat.