[imagebrowser id=9]On May 05, 2011, Detective D. Stopke of the Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) & Department of Public Safety, Mohave County G.II.T.E.M. Enforcement Squad held a graduation ceremony for 150 students who successfully completed the elementary and middle school G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education And Training) curriculum. The program was taught throughout the 2010/2011 school year at Havasupai Elementary School to students from the 4th and 6th grade levels.

The G.R.E.A.T. program, which was started in 1991 in Phoenix, AZ, has been taught at selected schools in the Mohave County area since 2007 by detectives from the Mohave County G.II.T.E.M. (Gang & Immigration Intelligence Enforcement Mission) squad. The six and thirteen week program is designed to teach students the following life skills:

–                      The truth about gangs and violence.

–                      Student’s roles in their families, schools, and communities.

–                      Goal-setting tips.

–                      How to make G.R.E.A.T. decisions.

–                      Communication skills.

–                      Empathy for others.

–                      Responding to peer pressure.

–                      Anger management.

–                      How to resolve conflicts.

In addition to the lessons learned in class, the students are required to participate in activities such as role playing, small-group work, brainstorming, and large-group discussions. The 6th grade classes were required to create an “Anti” poster in which they could create a message to help other students avoid, drugs, gangs, violence, and or any negative influences. The posters were displayed around the school campus for all students, teachers and parents to see.

The graduation ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance by the Havasupai Student Council President, followed by a thank-you speech by Detective Dave Stopke. Havasupai School Principal Clyde Sanders gave a speech of encouragement and introduced key note speaker, Lake Havasu Police Captain C. Petterson. At the conclusion of the speeches, each class room teacher was asked to the stage where they introduced their students to the audience. Each student was given a certificate of completion for the G.R.E.A.T. class in which they participated in.

A small police expo was organized for all of the students, teachers and community on the upper soccer field of the school. The expo included K-9 demonstrations by the Lake Havasu Police Department K-9 unit, S.W.A.T. demonstrations by the Lake Havasu Police Department S.W.A.T. Team, and a live Tazer demonstration as a Havasupai teacher volunteered to be Tazed in front of the students. In addition, the 1992 D.P.S. pursuit Camero was on site along with 2-D.P.S. G.II.T.E.M. Chevy Tahoe’s and 2-D.P.S. Motors from Phoenix. The Northern D.P.S. Air Rescue Helicopter made an appearance and was the main event for the students and their parents.

Sponsors for the graduation ceremony included donations from the Arizona Highway Patrol Association, Lake Havasu Police Association, Lake Havasu “Food City”, Lake Havasu “Frito-Lay” and “Swire-Coca-Cola”. Hotdogs, chips and soda were sold at the graduation ceremony and all proceeds were donated back to Havasupai Elementary School. A grand total of over 425.00 was raised and donated back to the school.

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