Fifth grade pupils at the Cranbury School celebrated their graduation from the Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD) program with cheers and a smile.
On March 22, a group of about 70 children graduated from the 10-week program that seeks to steer children away from drugs and other bad influences, according to Cranbury Police Lt. Michael Owens.
“I think the LEAD program is a great program to have in this school. It gets the children introduced to law enforcement in a personal way,” he said. “Once a week during the program we get to know the students in a personal manner. This is a proven and effective program for helping students make the right choices.”
The program is designed to create safer, healthier communities that are free of drugs, bullying and violence, according to program officials.
Owens said there are lessons and facts presented and discussed regarding drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
“We talk about ways to say no, have goal-setting activities and have the children participate in fun activities to help them make better decisions,” he said.
Owens opened the LEAD graduation ceremony by reminding the youngsters to say no to things that are bad for them. Each student received a certificate, a LEAD T-shirt and a bumper sticker.
“I know the school teaches the children about making the right decision throughout their time here. It is important to reinforce that when we meet them in the fifth grade,” Owens said. “It is just good to be here for us as a police department regardless of the students’ grade.”
He said the LEAD program has been in existence at the school for six years.
“The LEAD program is presented in a fun way to the fifth grade students. This graduation is the culmination of the 10 weeks I have been with them. The event helps recognize the achievements of the classes,” Owens said.
Greg Anderson is a physical education and health teacher at the school and his fifth grade pupils were among those who graduated.
“The LEAD program gives the children a different perspective and point of view from outside the school,” he said. “I think with the dug epidemic happening these days the students are aware and respond well to this program. It makes me feel good as a teacher to know my students are getting something out of this important program.”
Anderson said he believes fifth grade is an appropriate year to start teaching children about drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
“Middle school is a huge transition and so is high school. This is just good grade to have a program about these issues for our students,” he said.