South Toms River students doing just G.R.E.A.T. against gangs
The entire fifth-grade complement of South Toms River Elementary joins the ranks of street-wise students equipped to resist the lure of gang culture, violence and delinquency.
They're the latest graduates of Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato's Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program. Tuesday's graduation raises the number of Ocean County schools that have successfully completed the course to six.
The G.R.E.A.T. program's nearly 30 years of developing bonds between police and community members, and in educating kids approaching prime age to be induced into gang activity, prompted Ocean County authorities to introduce it in 2011.
Prior to Tuesday's "graduation," fifth-graders in Lakewood Middle School, and Toms River students of Hooper Avenue, Silver Bay, and East Dover Elementaries, and sixth-graders of Toms River Intermediate East received the training.
Coronato and South Toms River Police Chief Andrew Izatt guided the program for the students. South Toms River PD Detective Mike Schneidt and Patrolman Anthony Giacinti, under tutelage by County detectives, were among 41 officers from around Ocean County and 19 states who completed a week-long instructor course at the Ocean County Training Center in Waretown.
The information, given to students in their classroom settings in a six-week span, is described as evidence-based, school-based and imparted by law enforcement officers. It's like a class and a lab, simultaneously, and the teacher wears a uniform.
More than 60 youngsters learned life skills such as decision-making, effective communication, anger management, respect, and anti-bullying techniques.
Coronato hopes to bring the program to as many children as possible. See all the details of the G.R.E.A.T.program here.