Former NFL punter Brian Hansen signs autographs and talks with students after EMPOWER graduation in Ramona Wednesday.

Graduation came early in the school year for some Oldham-Ramona and Madison Christian School students.  Nineteen 5th and 6th grade students from Oldham-Ramona, along with three 5th grade students from Madison Christian School graduated Wednesday from the EMPOWER program.  The EMPOWER program is presented by Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Rowe as part of his work as the county’s School Resource Officer. Rowe presents the drug awareness program to students for nine weeks leading up to the graduation. 

Former NFL punter Brian Hansen spoke to the graduating students Wednesday.  Hansen played college football at the University of Sioux Falls before being drafted to play in the NFL in 1984.  Hansen spoke to the students about equipping themselves with the tools to make good decisions in their futures. 

Hansen, who now works for South Dakota FCA in Sioux Falls, said this age group is a good place to start having these conversations about making choices and learning from them.

Hansen joined Deputy Rowe and other Lake County law enforcement officers in congratulating the students on their accomplishment and on having the education, resources, and support they need to be as successful as they can be.