Ninety-seven eighth grade students from Hauser Junior High School accompanied by 10 adults led by Butch Berwanger boarded planes on April 12 and headed to Washington, D.C. The purpose of the trip was to attend the PRIDE 2006 Conference where the theme was “Mission Possible: Operation, Drug-Free Youth; Target, Under-Age Drinking.” Through the organization, students learn they can change the world beginning in their own schools and communities.

Students attended workshops and gathered information they will bring back to the school and will pass along there to help others. Following each session they attend, students were required to keep a journal and reflect on what they had heard and then met as a group to discuss their journal entries and reflections.

It was the consensus of the group, according to students Stephanie Duve and Eric Din, that the program “Dirt,” a one-man show of substance abuse and choices performed by actor/comedian John Morello was the most impressive.

Taking advantage of our nation’s capital, they viewed some of the sights with a stop at the Rayburn Building, where they were greeted by staffers from the offices of Senator Dick Durbin, Rep. Daniel Lipinski, and Senator Barack Obama.

Duve, along with Madison Jordan, Emily Hejna, Stephanie Sauer, Alyssa Penna, A.J. Lapidus, Ned Ahlberg, Morgan Vogel and Christian Hitt had written statements which they read to the staffers and members of the Hauser group.

At the awards dinner and awards gala the Hauser group, one of the largest groups of the 2,500 in attendance, was awarded the Public Service Award, for a public service announcement created by Din, Ben Kohler, Chris Halline and Connor Halline with help from Liz Whaley, a teacher at Hauser. They also won the Prevention Group of the Year Award.

The proudest moment for the group was the presentation of the Special Achievement Award to Butch Berwanger, a very deserving recipient. Berwanger received the award from Milton Creagh, national spokesperson for the PRIDE Youth program.

Mr. “B” has been the moving force in educating Hauser students on drug prevention for many years and sponsor of PRIDE at the school and SMART Club which boasts a membership of 85 percent of the school’s seventh and eighth graders. Mr. B’s surprise at receiving the award was enhanced when his wife, Jackie, and daughter, Claire, came out to congratulate him. Their appearance was a surprise for Berwanger.

Getting the student perspective, Duve said she would definitely go again as she enjoyed the workshops and interacting with different personalities and students from all over the world. Her advice to others is, “If you are ever asked to go, be sure to go!”

Getting ready for high school, she and some of her friends wish RB had the program so they could continue their membership.

Chaperone Tina Duve concurred with her daughter’s observations and added the students were well-behaved, up early and the experience was “very energizing.”

Students attending the conference raised money for the trip through fundraisers and the generosity of community members, as well as their own money. Raffle tickets are still available to help defray the cost and can be purchased through Mr. Berwanger at Hauser.

To those who attended the conference, and that includes Mr. B, the students, and chaperones you have made the community proud of you and PRIDE.