On Friday, October 26, three fourth-grade classes graduated from the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program. All 60 students in fourth grade participated in the six-week program, during which they learned gang and violence prevention.
“The program is built around school-based, law enforcement officer–instructed classroom curricula. The program is intended as a deterrent against delinquency, bullying, youth violence and gang membership for elementary school–age children, in the years immediately before the prime ages for introduction into gangs and delinquent behavior,” said Salt River Police Department School Resource Officer Julian Owens. “The goal of this program is to help youth avoid gang membership, prevent violence and criminal activity, and develop a positive relationship with law enforcement, resulting in a safer Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.”
This curriculum is taught to the fourth grade and the sixth grade at Salt River Elementary School. The sixth-grade curriculum is seven weeks longer; those students have to take a 13-week program to graduate from G.R.E.A.T. The program for the older students covers a variety of other lesson plans to better prepare those students as they enter middle school. It is designed to provide students with the skills they need to avoid gang pressure and youth violence.
During the G.R.E.A.T. graduation ceremony, each student was given a certificate and treated to cake and ice cream.
“What I hope the students got out of this program is the partnership between them, their parents, their teachers and law enforcement. These partnerships encourage and foster positive relationships among families, schools and law enforcement of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community,” said Owens. “In addition, I want the students to utilize the life skills they learned in the G.R.E.A.T. program to help them avoid delinquent behavior and using violence to solve problems.”