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SISD Gang Prevention reaches out to students

Written and posted on the Socorro Independent School District Web site http://www.sisd.net/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=433
Monday November 3, 2008
Used with permission

G.R.E.A.T. student shaking hands at the G.R.E.A.T. program graduation. Helping students make positive choices and develop life-long skills is the goal of the Socorro Independent School District Police Services program. Through the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program, SISD police officers are working alongside parents, teachers, counselors and principals to show students the impact and consequences of negative behaviors.

First developed by the Phoenix Police Department, the GREAT Program has evolved into a school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curriculum. With prevention as its primary objective, the program is intended to teach students about the dangers of youth violence, and gang membership. The program features two curriculums, a 6-week plan designed for 4th and 5th graders and a 13-week plan for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. The lessons focus on providing life skills to students to help them avoid using delinquent behavior and violence to solve problems.

"We try to cover as much as we can and teach students about strategies and coping skills they can use when they get older," said SISD Officer Efren Pulido.

"I like it a lot. We learned how to deal with gangs and drugs," said Vista Del Sol student Amy Alvarez.

The lesson plans were developed through the collaborative efforts of experienced law enforcement officers and specialists in criminology, sociology, psychology, education, health, and curriculum design and are designed to reinforce each other. The lessons are interactive and designed to allow students to practice positive behaviors.

G.R.E.A.T. Officer teaching a lesson in the classroom. "Students are learning about refusal skills, conflict resolution, anger management and basic decision making skills," said SISD Officer and GREAT coordinator Ricardo Holguin. "This program has helped and we are seeing more parents get involved in the program."

"The issues they talk about are very essential for our students at this age. They are issues that students are involved with on a daily basis," said Vista Del Sol teacher Margaret Morgan whose 6th grade World Culture and Geography students are participating in the GREAT program. “The students look forward to talking with the officers. They have so many questions about what is going on in their community and what other students their age are doing.

Taught by five SISD police officers (Rafael Amaro, Armando Sanchez, and Araceli Silva along with Holguin and Pulido) for the past seven years, the GREAT program is available District-wide. Currently, the program is being used by law enforcement agencies, including SISD Police Services, throughout all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam have implemented the program. In 2006, the G.R.E.A.T. Program was delivered in 400 communities across the United States.

The success of the G.R.E.A.T. Program is founded on the mutual commitment of law enforcement and educational agencies, united in a common goal to:

  • Provide children with the skills necessary to combat the stresses that set the stage for gang involvement.
  • Provide children with accurate knowledge about gang involvement.
  • Provide children with the skills necessary to resolve conflicts peacefully.
  • Help children understand the need to set realistic goals

For the 2008-2009 school year, officers Pulido and Holguin have worked with students at Sierra Vista Elementary and Vista Del Sol. For more information about the GREAT program please log on to http://www.great-online.org/Default.Aspx.

SISD Schools involved in GREAT program:

Benito Martinez Bill Sybert Campestre
Desert Wind Dr. Sue Shook Elfida P. Chavez
Ernesto Serna Escontrias H.D. Hilley
Helen Ball Horizon Heights Hueco
Hurshel Antwine Jane A. Hambric John Drugan
Loma Verde Lujan Chavez Myrtle Cooper
O'Shea Keleher Paso Del Norte Robert R. Rojas
Sierra Vista Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Vista Del Sol

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