Success Stories

Success Stories

Instructions: Click on each box below to read the success story submitted by that individual.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component

Since I entered the G.R.E.A.T. Program, my communication with children has improved. My greatest satisfaction is seeing the children that I have trained having good conduct and staying away from gangs.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Honduras

The success story that I have had is knowing that the children of rural areas of the department of Yoro have had the opportunity of being trained. They are now making decisions for their futures and achieving their objectives; most children in rural areas only stay in school until sixth grade. This Program provides great help for them because it brings strategies so that they can overcome obstacles and, in that way, changes their mentality. This information reaches their homes where their parents are also looking for support and the confidence that their children can achieve becoming someone in their futures.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Honduras

I had a student named Carlos. When I started giving lessons, the teachers told me that he was spoiled, foul-mouthed, and that I should be careful with him. What I did was gain his trust, and as the days passed, I saw this child improve. He showed companionship and good behavior. The lessons helped him, and he was able to pass the grade. The lessons about controlling anger were a success and helped him very much. It also helped me because a child changed his life due to the G.R.E.A.T. Program.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: José Rodríguez Valle School, Comasagua municipality

I have been a G.R.E.A.T. instructor for one year, and I had an experience during the second lesson of the middle school component. A mother of one of my seventh-grade students approached me; she looked very worried and she said to me, “Agent Vanessa, my son wants to take his own life.” This really impacted me a lot because I am a mother. Immediately, I communicated with my boss and he arranged help. A nongovernmental organization offered us its valuable help by connecting us with a professional psychologist. That professional met with the youth and the mother several times, which had a positive result.

The youth graduated from the G.R.E.A.T. Program and completed his seventh-grade studies with excellence. The mother was very grateful for everything we could do for them; it was a team effort, creating confidence through the G.R.E.A.T. Program.

This story began the first day I arrived at the school in the fourth-grade classroom. The objective was to teach the Elementary School G.R.E.A.T. Program. I introduced myself to the children and the teacher. I asked each child to stand up and introduce themselves, saying their name and the fruit that they liked best. Everything was going well until the boy named Josué had to introduce himself. He had an arrogant attitude, which drew my attention. Throughout the class, he smiled and remained indifferent. When the class was over, I asked the teacher if Josué had any problems, and she told me that he was rather difficult and that he had relatives who were gang members. She also explained that Josue said that when he grew up, he was going to be a gang member. In the next class, I paid more attention to his behavior and vocabulary, and I asked him why he talked like that and why his hair was different. I tried to talk to him more. I asked him questions that had nothing to do with the class during recess. I touched his hair and told him that it was too short for him, that he was a child. After the third class, he looked for me during recess and began to talk to me about the previous topic and I made a joke or two. Then he changed his behavior, changed his haircut, participated more in class, helped me hand out papers, and talked a lot with me. Finally, one day he told me that when he grew up, he wanted to be a policeman. I felt really good because I helped change this child’s way of thinking.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Colonia Santa Cruz School in Chalchuapa, Santa Ana, El Salvador

At first, Susana, a seventh-grade student, was skipping school, acting rebellious towards her mother, and hanging out on the streets in her neighborhood with a group of young people who seemed to be using drugs.

During the G.R.E.A.T. Program, Susana initially acted coolly towards the police because apparently, she had been in trouble with the law before. One time, the police had taken her to the police station for hanging out with those troublesome neighborhood youth. As her instructor, instead of isolating her, I approached her, spoke with her, and asked her about her behavior. It so happens that Susana’s behavioral problems were caused by a lack of attention from her mother. Following our conversation, Susana spoke with her mother, and by means of the G.R.E.A.T. middle school lessons, Susana began to change her behavior and her friendships. With the help of her teacher, we involved her more in the G.R.E.A.T. Program. At the end of the program, because Susana was a model student who went to class every day, Susana was elected as class president. In addition, her mother became more involved in all aspects of her life, including giving her more attention. Susana’s mother is very grateful for this program because it has helped her daughter to become a G.R.E.A.T. citizen.

Program: Jóvenes contra el delito (JOCODE) y G.R.E.A.T.
Name of School: Instituto Profesional y Técnico de Veraguas

In 2017, I was teaching one of the human development and prevention programs to G.R.E.A.T. students from the Belisario Villa School in Veraguas. As part of the JOCODE program, an action plan was proposed in which we would support the community to improve the school’s image while fostering generosity and social responsibility.

Part of this project involved fundraising activities and collecting donations, which went towards meeting many of the needs of a family in the Calobre area in Veraguas. The project was even broadcasted through a radio station to raise awareness and support.

This family was experiencing a very difficult economic and social situation. There were five children, a man in a wheelchair, a woman, and one elderly person living in the home. They did not have drinking water; they drank from a stream. They did not have a bathroom, food, a decent home, or decent mattresses or beds to sleep in. G.R.E.A.T. students showed empathy and collected dry foods, among other things. It was possible to give the family beds and mattresses, food, kitchenware, as well as improve the cooking space and replace 80 percent of the roof, which needed it badly. Finally, pipes were purchased, and the work to bring running water into their home was done. This was an unforgettable experience that taught us all about human values and the importance of teamwork.

Program: G.R.E.A.T.
Name of School: Centro de Educación Básica General de Santa María

I was teaching the G.R.E.A.T. Program as usual, but when I arrived at this school, I observed that the youth who were from a problematic community and were at social risk were grouped together and kept away from the rest of the students, the school claiming that they were bad influences. I worked with them for some time. In the beginning, the students displayed a lack of discipline; they did not want to receive the Program, and they were afraid. However, as we progressed through the lessons, these attitudes started to change. The students changed their bad habits and improved their behavior, both inside and outside of the school. I am now able to use the experience of teaching this class as an example of a desire to change. In addition, the students themselves are now sharing what they have learned with other youth in their community in Rincón de Santa María, Herrera Province, Republic of Panama.

Program: G.R.E.A.T.
Name of School: La Doradilla

When I arrived at this school to teach the G.R.E.A.T. Program, and as I taught the lessons, I met a child who was very shy in the class and who also missed classes frequently. I was interested in knowing more about him. Sadly, I learned that he was being sexually abused, which is why he isolated himself from others. I wanted to help him. When we completed the Program, I was able place him in a better home, after which he was able to attend school regularly. Ultimately, he went on to become an honors student at school, and I was able to change his perspective about joining gangs.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School:La Primavera, Veraguas, Panama

A sixth-grade student approached me at the end of Lesson 2. She asked to talk to me and confided in me about a situation of abuse and violence at her uncle and aunt’s home, where she lived. She told me that she was a victim of cruelty and abuse. I immediately requested a meeting with the school principal, created a report, sent it to the competent authority, and followed up on the situation. After that, she reported on the situation again, so I informed the authorities and took action. We were able to verify that the report was true.

As a result, the girl was placed in a safe home, where she is doing well; she is continuing with her studies and her rights are respected. This adolescent had special needs and was an excellent student, but if I had not built a relationship of trust with her through the G.R.E.A.T. Program, she may have never received the help that she needed.

Program: G.R.E.A.T.

A group of kids got together and put together a surprise for me in the classroom, giving me a present. They told me how happy they were for having received the G.R.E.A.T. lessons. In addition, one day when I was running some errands and was dressed in civilian clothes, a girl from the group was out with her parents. When she saw me, she let go of her parents’ hands, came running towards me, and hugged me. She explained to her parents that I had taught the G.R.E.A.T. Program at her school, and they thanked me.

Maria was a girl who could not stand the presence of police in the classroom; she was very upset when I arrived at the school, and when she found out that I was the one teaching G.R.E.A.T. classes, she did not want to attend. I tried to talk to her and find out why she hated law enforcement officers so much, and she told me that the police had killed her uncle, who was a gang member. Her mother then told her not to listen to any advice or class taught by the police—that they were bad. I talked to the girl, and it was difficult. When I started teaching G.R.E.A.T. classes, she did not want to come inside the classroom. When I greeted Maria, I talked to her and gave her a chocolate to earn her trust and that was the key to my success. I always gave her something. She realized that what happened was not my fault. I talked to her mom, and she understood. When the Program ended, Maria had changed and now says that she feels and knows that law enforcement officers are good. We are good friends now; she always greets me, respects me, and calls me “profe” (teacher). Thanks to this Program, the kids in all the communities where I have taught know who I am.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Elementary School Component
Name of School: Centro Escolar José Dolores Larreynaga

I had the opportunity of meeting an elementary school child named Emmanuel. When I taught my first G.R.E.A.T. lesson, he did not want to participate at all, so I began to watch him. Later, I called him so we could talk privately and asked him what was happening. He said that he did not like the Program. He was hanging out with bad friends and said he thought that gangs were something positive. I explained to him that gangs were bad and as we talked, little by little, I earned his trust. By the time I completed the Program at the school, he had turned into a great student; the conversations I had with him made him reconsider his points of view. He became my friend. Experiences like these are the ones that are truly rewarding.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Elementary School Component
Name of School: Centro Escolar República de Ecuador

Sergio is a boy who refused to be part of the G.R.E.A.T. Program because he was rejected by his classmates due to his aggressive behavior. After I talked to him and made him feel that he was important to the class, he could not wait for his next G.R.E.A.T. lesson and to be included in other similar programs. Now he plays soccer, and he has fun because he is part of a group of children chosen for the school’s soccer team. Before G.R.E.A.T., he was being left out, even by some teachers, but now he feels important and is trying to get good grades each school year.

Program: G.R.E.A.T.
Name of School: Rodrigo J. Leiva School

I had the opportunity of teaching the G.R.E.A.T. Program at the Rodrigo J. Leiva School, where I met Eliu, a member of a problematic community. His brother was arrested for homicide and his mother sold drugs. During the G.R.E.A.T. Program, Eliu was a very disciplined student, and the Program helped to prevent him from getting in trouble and to continue studying. Today, Eliu is a Boy Scout in his community and helps with productive projects.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Elementary School Component
Name of School: Raúl Flores Morenol

The G.R.E.A.T. Program was successful with one of my fifth-grade students from the Raúl Flores Moreno School in the municipality of Conchagua, La Unión. He is 11 years old, and his teachers and classmates admire him because, after he received the G.R.E.A.T. lessons taught by his instructor, he began to mirror and model the actions of his instructor. He also began to influence other students by sharing the values and principles that are developed in the Program.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Antonio Velasco School

All of the students who attend the Antonio Velasco School live in a place that is gradually overcoming its violence and crime. After completing the G.R.E.A.T. Program, all ninth-grade students carried out very nice individual projects that highlighted the level of acceptance that they had towards the police after participating in the Program. Also, as a token of their appreciation, they gave me a blanket embroidered with the word “G.R.E.A.T.” This community has been influenced by gangs for years, but the G.R.E.A.T. Program, together with other preventive actions, has allowed the community members to trust more in the school and feel more secure. It is important to mention that in previous years, youth could not leave their homes due to murders and threats; this is a territory controlled by the 18th Street Gang. However, with the incorporation of the G.R.E.A.T. Program and other actions, law enforcement officers have been able to engage youth in activities with the support of people from other areas. The important thing is prevention, the freedom of transit, and a change in outsiders’ perceptions of the community, the school, and especially the youth living there, who clearly understand the risks of direct or indirect gang affiliation.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Elementary and Middle School Components

It is very rewarding to see students on the street, and they hug me and greet me with great enthusiasm. The same thing happens with the parents; they recognize me after working with the students. The communities also acknowledge our work.

Program: G.R.E.A.T.
Name of School: Centro Escolar Francisco Gavidia (Lourdes, Colón, La Libertad)

Thanks to the G.R.E.A.T. Program, a girl, whose parents were killed, cares for me and trusts me as if I was her own father, even though I am a police officer. Teaching the G.R.E.A.T. Program has been very rewarding and encourages me to continue working harder.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Gustavo Vídes Valdés School in Lourdes, El Salvador

I had a seventh-grade student who was hyperactive, and during the first lesson, he was already distracting everyone. But I moved him to the front row and put him in charge of handing out and collecting the workbooks. In addition, the teacher told me that he was rebellious and had bad grades. However, at the end of the G.R.E.A.T. Program, this young boy was one of the best-behaved in the entire class. One morning before school, I spoke with him and he told me that ever since he was a little boy, his grandmother has raised and educated him because he doesn’t have any parents. Nevertheless, thanks to the efforts of his grandmother and the G.R.E.A.T. Program’s attention to its students, this student has changed his attitude and behavior.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Ciudad Futura School in Cuscatancingo, Apopa, El Salvador

Marlon, a 13-year-old seventh-grade student, gave me a letter on the day of his G.R.E.A.T. graduation in which it said the following: “Dear G.R.E.A.T. Officer, I want to thank you for dedicating your time to all of us. I want you to know that, before you started sharing the G.R.E.A.T. Program with us, I was a disobedient and very troubled young person. On more than one occasion, I considered joining a gang. However, the lessons that you have taught us during the G.R.E.A.T. Program have made me change my temperament and have made me decide not to join a gang.”

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Sacred Heart School in San Miguel, El Salvador

2016—the story of 14-year-old Miss Lazo Reyes. When I arrived at this girl’s school with the G.R.E.A.T. Program, she was the one who, from the beginning, accepted the program because she had heard how G.R.E.A.T. changed its participants and gave them skills for saying “no” to gangs. She told me that all of her uncles were members of the international criminal gang, MS-13. When they found out that she was in the G.R.E.A.T. Program, those uncles who were in prison told her, “Finish your schooling and listen to that police officer. He does not want you to end up in prison or ruin your life like we have done.” Today, this girl is in her first year of high school. She tells me that the G.R.E.A.T. Program taught her so much. According to her, everything that she learned in the G.R.E.A.T. Program is helping her to make better friends, and she has even used some of the refusal methods that she learned during the program. She has also set goals for herself—she wants to graduate with a degree in education in order to be able to help and teach those students who are in need. She writes,

“I used to think that if my uncles were gang members, that wasn’t so bad. I asked my father. He never answered me but instead told me to ask a police officer. My plan was to join a gang. Today, not anymore. I want to be a professional who helps people, like my teacher and my G.R.E.A.T. instructor.”

As a G.R.E.A.T. instructor, it makes me happy that, with the G.R.E.A.T. Program, I have changed the negative course of action that this girl was planning to take. I plan on sharing this program with my son when he is old enough.

Congratulations on such a successful program!

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Francisco Gavidia School in El Refugio, Ahuachapán, El Salvador

Josefina, a ten-year-old sixth-grade student, began to exhibit poor behaviors at school, but we caught those behaviors early on. We approached the girl, and we asked her what was going on with her and why she didn’t want to participate in the G.R.E.A.T. lessons. It was being investigated whether she was a victim of bullying because her classmates had found out that she was the sister of a gang member. Nevertheless, we kept talking with her and by the second G.R.E.A.T. lesson, she began to change her behavior. She also told us that she wanted someone to talk with her brother because she didn’t want any harm to come to her brother and her family. So I went to visit with her family, and I continued to visit with them. Thank God, Josefina was no longer the target of bullying, and her brother removed himself from those harmful friendships—friendships that were pressuring him to commit crimes. And thank God, today both children are making good grades, are doing very well in school, and have been able to enjoy a close-knit family. They have learned how to make good decisions and how to say “no” to bad things.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Cantón Salinas del Potrero School in Usulután, El Salvador

Rutilio, a seventh-grade student, had intentions of dropping out of school because there was a group of young, like-minded gang supporters who were trying to pressure him into joining a gang. The other problem was that he could hardly read, so he was apathetic about participating in group activities. However, thanks to the G.R.E.A.T. Program that was being taught at that school, the young Rutilio chose to continue with his studies, and he completed the seventh grade with good grades. He was even given a medal of excellence for improving his grades. He also greatly improved his reading skills, which led to increased group participation, and he was even the first one to raise his hand when I asked for volunteers during the lessons. Likewise, on the day of the G.R.E.A.T. Program graduation, I gave Rutilio a medal of excellence for his enthusiasm and increased participation during the program.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Elementary School Component
Name of School: California School in Usulután, El Salvador

It was really nice to take a long walk through the town of California, where students from kindergarten, students from first to ninth grade, high school students, teachers, parents, and a previous G.R.E.A.T. instructor were all involved in the G.R.E.A.T. Program. We held an inauguration event at the school, as well as several folk festivals. There were 81 children who participated in these events, and three of these students had special needs. It was wonderful to watch as the others helped these three children. When I told the students that they would be graduating from the G.R.E.A.T. Program on September 12, 2017, everyone was very happy. I requested some assistance from city hall officials, and they provided snacks for the children as we celebrated their graduation from the program. We also celebrated with a piñata breaking. The teachers congratulated me, and they hope that I will continue teaching this program in the upcoming year.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Elementary School Component
Name of School: Doctor José Antonio Rodríguez Porth School in San Salvador, El Salvador

Estefany lived in a community in which there were two criminal groups. She was able to witness many acts of violence, fights, injuries, and homicides. Estefany made it known that when the G.R.E.A.T. Program arrived at her school, it had a great impact on her. She recalls how she was very naughty to her mother and how she used to treat her little three-year-old brother poorly when she was ten years old. The lessons from the G.R.E.A.T. Elementary School Component have made her change her vocabulary and not treat her mother and little brother poorly. The program has changed her a lot—she completes her school assignments, passes each grade, helps her mother with chores at home, and cares for her brother. She says “thank you” to her G.R.E.A.T. instructor and for her G.R.E.A.T. Student Handbook.

Program: G.R.E.A.T.
Name of School: El Congo School, Unión Centroamericana School and Anselma Sánchez de Mancia School in Santa Ana, El Salvador

The experience that I have had in developing the G.R.E.A.T. Program in the municipality of El Congo, Santa Ana (El Salvador) has been very successful. There, many of the youth were unable to travel to the other schools, for fear of gangs. By means of the G.R.E.A.T. Program, we have been able to make general improvements between the schools. This has allowed the students to coexist and get along well with other students from other schools. It also has improved their ability to travel without fear.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Profesora Ángela de Jesús Hernández de Romero School in Apopa, San Salvador, El Salvador

When I started the G.R.E.A.T. Program, I was met with the disapproval of a student named Kevin. Kevin always had a tendency toward gangs, but as the program progressed, I had the opportunity of watching him take part in the program’s activities, and, as a result, Kevin performed a song about the G.R.E.A.T. Program as part of the program’s project.

I am proud of this great success with Kevin.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Doctor Darío González School in San Vicente, El Salvador

It is a beautiful experience, watching as the students in the G.R.E.A.T. Program become more aware. There are students who initially oppose the police, but because of the lessons taught during the G.R.E.A.T. Program, the students began to realize that the police were not like they thought they were. By the end of the program, they were appreciative of everything, and that is where I noted such a change in these youth.

This type of program works very well in helping to change the negative thoughts of youth to positive ones.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Gustavo Vídes Valdés School in Lourdes, El Salvador

I had a seventh-grade student who was hyperactive, and during the first lesson, he was already distracting everyone. But I moved him to the front row and put him in charge of handing out and collecting the workbooks. In addition, the teacher told me that he was rebellious and had bad grades. However, at the end of the G.R.E.A.T. Program, this young boy was one of the best-behaved in the entire class. One morning before school, I spoke with him and he told me that ever since he was a little boy, his grandmother has raised and educated him because he doesn’t have any parents. Nevertheless, thanks to the efforts of his grandmother and the G.R.E.A.T. Program’s attention to its students, this student has changed his attitude and behavior.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Ciudad Futura School in Cuscatancingo, Apopa, El Salvador

Marlon, a 13-year-old seventh-grade student, gave me a letter on the day of his G.R.E.A.T. graduation in which it said the following: “Dear G.R.E.A.T. Officer, I want to thank you for dedicating your time to all of us. I want you to know that, before you started sharing the G.R.E.A.T. Program with us, I was a disobedient and very troubled young person. On more than one occasion, I considered joining a gang. However, the lessons that you have taught us during the G.R.E.A.T. Program have made me change my temperament and have made me decide not to join a gang.”

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Colonia Santa Cruz School in Chalchuapa, Santa Ana, El Salvador

At first, Susana, a seventh-grade student, was skipping school, acting rebellious towards her mother, and hanging out on the streets in her neighborhood with a group of young people who seemed to be using drugs.

During the G.R.E.A.T. Program, Susana initially acted coolly towards the police because apparently, she had been in trouble with the law before. One time, the police had taken her to the police station for hanging out with those troublesome neighborhood youth. As her instructor, instead of isolating her, I approached her, spoke with her, and asked her about her behavior. It so happens that Susana’s behavioral problems were caused by a lack of attention from her mother. Following our conversation, Susana spoke with her mother, and by means of the G.R.E.A.T. middle school lessons, Susana began to change her behavior and her friendships. With the help of her teacher, we involved her more in the G.R.E.A.T. Program. At the end of the program, because Susana was a model student who went to class every day, Susana was elected as class president. In addition, her mother became more involved in all aspects of her life, including giving her more attention. Susana’s mother is very grateful for this program because it has helped her daughter to become a G.R.E.A.T. citizen.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Sacred Heart School in San Miguel, El Salvador

2016—the story of 14-year-old Miss Lazo Reyes. When I arrived at this girl’s school with the G.R.E.A.T. Program, she was the one who, from the beginning, accepted the program because she had heard how G.R.E.A.T. changed its participants and gave them skills for saying “no” to gangs. She told me that all of her uncles were members of the international criminal gang, MS-13. When they found out that she was in the G.R.E.A.T. Program, those uncles who were in prison told her, “Finish your schooling and listen to that police officer. He does not want you to end up in prison or ruin your life like we have done.” Today, this girl is in her first year of high school. She tells me that the G.R.E.A.T. Program taught her so much. According to her, everything that she learned in the G.R.E.A.T. Program is helping her to make better friends, and she has even used some of the refusal methods that she learned during the program. She has also set goals for herself—she wants to graduate with a degree in education in order to be able to help and teach those students who are in need. She writes,

“I used to think that if my uncles were gang members, that wasn’t so bad. I asked my father. He never answered me but instead told me to ask a police officer. My plan was to join a gang. Today, not anymore. I want to be a professional who helps people, like my teacher and my G.R.E.A.T. instructor.”

As a G.R.E.A.T. instructor, it makes me happy that, with the G.R.E.A.T. Program, I have changed the negative course of action that this girl was planning to take. I plan on sharing this program with my son when he is old enough.

Congratulations on such a successful program!

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Francisco Gavidia School in El Refugio, Ahuachapán, El Salvador

Josefina, a ten-year-old sixth-grade student, began to exhibit poor behaviors at school, but we caught those behaviors early on. We approached the girl, and we asked her what was going on with her and why she didn’t want to participate in the G.R.E.A.T. lessons. It was being investigated whether she was a victim of bullying because her classmates had found out that she was the sister of a gang member. Nevertheless, we kept talking with her and by the second G.R.E.A.T. lesson, she began to change her behavior. She also told us that she wanted someone to talk with her brother because she didn’t want any harm to come to her brother and her family. So I went to visit with her family, and I continued to visit with them. Thank God, Josefina was no longer the target of bullying, and her brother removed himself from those harmful friendships—friendships that were pressuring him to commit crimes. And thank God, today both children are making good grades, are doing very well in school, and have been able to enjoy a close-knit family. They have learned how to make good decisions and how to say “no” to bad things.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Elementary School Component
Name of School: California School in Usulután, El Salvador

It was really nice to take a long walk through the town of California, where students from kindergarten, students from first to ninth grade, high school students, teachers, parents, and a previous G.R.E.A.T. instructor were all involved in the G.R.E.A.T. Program. We held an inauguration event at the school, as well as several folk festivals. There were 81 children who participated in these events, and three of these students had special needs. It was wonderful to watch as the others helped these three children. When I told the students that they would be graduating from the G.R.E.A.T. Program on September 12, 2017, everyone was very happy. I requested some assistance from city hall officials, and they provided snacks for the children as we celebrated their graduation from the program. We also celebrated with a piñata breaking. The teachers congratulated me, and they hope that I will continue teaching this program in the upcoming year.

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component
Name of School: Cantón Salinas del Potrero School in Usulután, El Salvador

Rutilio, a seventh-grade student, had intentions of dropping out of school because there was a group of young, like-minded gang supporters who were trying to pressure him into joining a gang. The other problem was that he could hardly read, so he was apathetic about participating in group activities. However, thanks to the G.R.E.A.T. Program that was being taught at that school, the young Rutilio chose to continue with his studies, and he completed the seventh grade with good grades. He was even given a medal of excellence for improving his grades. He also greatly improved his reading skills, which led to increased group participation, and he was even the first one to raise his hand when I asked for volunteers during the lessons. Likewise, on the day of the G.R.E.A.T. Program graduation, I gave Rutilio a medal of excellence for his enthusiasm and increased participation during the program.