Hundreds of Ocean County students now understand how to avoid falling victim to a life of crime.

Courtesy of Ocean County Prosecutor's Office | Proud students hold their graduation certificates high

Nearly 800 sixth-grade students from Lakewood and Toms River recently completed the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program, a curriculum that aims to discourage Ocean County youth from engaging in gang membership, delinquency and violence.

“Law enforcement and parents must work together to positively impact our children’s future,” Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said. “The G.R.E.A.T. program does that at the perfect time, when our children are most impressionable and in most need of direction.”

The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office (OCPO) brought the anti-violence curriculum to Ocean County Schools in 2011 as part of an effort by law enforcement officials to locally expand outreach programs that impact as many children as possible.

Courtesy of Ocean County Prosecutor's Office

Among others, the graduation was supported by Lakewood Middle School Principal Richard Fastnaucht, OCPO Detective Sandra Rodriguez, Assistant Prosecutor Jamie Schron, Lakewood Police Officers Alex Guzman and Pete LaRosa, as well as New Jersey State Parole Officers Joe Marrone, Dawn Radanovitz and Monica Cherry.

“I commend the members of my office and participating departments for working tirelessly to help parents and our schools mold students into solid outstanding citizens and adults,” Coronato said.