500 Lakewood Middle School students graduate Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato today announced the final G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) graduation within Ocean County Schools for the 2016/2017 school year. The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Lakewood PD, and Lakewood Middle School staff close out this school year yesterday by certifying 500 Lakewood Middle School children in the G.R.E.A.T. Program.

To date the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office in cooperation with the Ocean County Sheriff’s Dept., Toms River Police Department, South Toms River Police Department and Lakewood Police Department have trained over 2,500 fifth and sixth grade students in the Ocean County area in the G.R.E.A.T. program. This training was conducted throughout the year in the following schools; Cedar Grove Elementary , Walnut Street Elementary , East Dover Elementary , Washington Street Elementary, West Dover Elementary, Hooper Avenue Elementary, Citta Elementary, North Dover Elementary, Silver Bay Elementary, South Toms River Elementary, Lakewood Middle School, Toms River Intermediate East and Toms River Intermediate North.

The program focuses on teaching children life skills that include decision-making, communication skills, anger management, anti-bullying and respect. The program is taught by Officer’s trained and certified by OCPO, allowing local Law Enforcement to work collaboratively with the School District and the community. To date the program has imparted life skills/lessons to over 1400 students throughout Ocean County who have completed the school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curriculum.

The Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program is an evidence-based, national and international gang and violence prevention program that has been building trust between law enforcement and communities for almost 30 years. G.R.E.A.T. is intended as an immunization against delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership. It is designed for children in the years immediately before the prime ages for introduction into gangs and delinquent behavior. The program is built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curricula.

OCPO brought the program to Ocean County Schools in 2011 and have been continuously working cooperatively with other Ocean County law enforcement agencies to expand the program locally in an effort to reach as many children as possible. Those wishing more Information about the G.R.E.A.T. program can go to: www.great-online.org.

Prosecutor Coronato commends all the dedicated G.R.E.A.T. Instructors: Toms River PD Ptl. Pam Slaven and Ptl. Ron Bayer, Lakewood PD Ptl.Steve Nickens, South Toms River Ptl. Michael Schneidt and Ptl. Anthony Giacinti, Ocean Country Sheriff’s Officer Joseph Kirby and SO Bill Zylkowski, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Det.I Taryn Scwartz, Det. Thomas Scalzullo and Sgt. Renee Nauyoks.

The G.R.E.A.T. staff thanks the Ocean County School Administrators and Teachers for allowing them the opportunity to work with their students and for helping to make this program a continued success. They wish all a safe summer filled with positive life memories and growth.

G.R.E.A.T. partners at yesterday’s graduation from left to right are: Assistant principal Dr. Scott Horowitz (Lakewood Middle School), Ptl. Steve Nickens (Lakewood PD) , Det. Tom Scalzullo (OCPO), Det.I Taryn Scwartz (OCPO) and Principal Richard Goldstein (Lakewood Middle School).

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