Riverside students take the dare to get along | PostIndependent.com

Riverside students take the dare to get along

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NEW CASTLE, Colorado ” After a recent Double Dog Dare To Get Along assembly at Riverside Middle School, parent organizer Erin Pressler said she was approached by one of the students who received a runner-up award in the unique contest.

“She wanted to team up with her partner and do it again,” Pressler said.

“I asked if she was getting along with her partner, and she said, ‘yeah, we’re friends now,'” Pressler said.

“So, it worked,” she said in explaining the idea behind the pilot Double Dog Dare program that was begun at Riverside this semester.

The point is to encourage students who normally wouldn’t interact to get to know each other. Even if they don’t become friends, at least they’ve learned to get along, Pressler said.

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The Double Dog Dare program was the brainchild of Pressler and three of her friends, Kelly Keith, Bridget Gonsalvo and Liz Zordel.

“We were at a football game last fall talking about our own children, and some of the problems with bullying and fighting and racism that was going,” Pressler said. “We were sort of joking, but we decided one way to get them to stop might be to dare them.”

Pressler recalled that when she was in school and someone got “double dog dared” to do something, it was hard to resist. Thus, the name.

Riverside Assistant Principal Galen Forristall liked the idea, especially since it was coming from parents.

“We like it because it wasn’t something we had to go out and ask people to do, they came to us with the idea,” he said. “We had been looking for something to address bullying in the way of a more community based program.”

The way it works is students are matched with someone that they aren’t likely to interact with, whether it’s because they have different interests, or hang with different groups of friends, or as a result of the ethnic divisions.

Partners spend two weeks together, asking questions to find out interesting facts about each other. They have lunch together, share nice things to say about each other, and eventually write letters to each other about the experience and what they learned.

At the end of the two weeks, prizes are awarded at an all-school assembly for the best essays. Pressler worked with Bruce Robinson and Bucky Moser of Alpine Bank to offer $100 savings bonds for first place and $50 savings bonds for second.

Other sponsors include the New Castle Recreation Department and director Bryan Vashus, and Mark Campisi of Domino’s Pizza.

Riverside has held two assemblies so far, where students hear a motivational talk and also have some fun music provided by DJs Rob and Karin Stokvis of Boogie Down Light.

A Feb. 20 assembly invited Glenwood Springs High School football coach Rocky Whitworth and two members of the state champion Demons team, Connor Riley and Moses Galvin to speak. Last Friday’s assembly featured Tony Granaman, who spoke from his personal experiences about making right and wrong choices.

Another round of dares is under way, with another awards assembly on May 15. Pressler said parents from other area schools have shown an interest in modeling the program.

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