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January 26, 2006

CONTACT: Steve Tompkins
Ed Geary Jr.
(617) 961-6672


Winthrop – Officers from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Choice Program visited the Arthur T. Cummings Elementary School in Winthrop the week of January 23. Corporal Tom DeRosa and Deputy Richard Stangle spoke with two 5th grade classes about the Choice Program curriculum.

“These guys were unbelievable. They covered so many things and created a great repoure with the kids in a matter of minutes,” said Brian Gill, the school principal. “The [Sheriff’s] Department developed a great program that is designed well and was consistent with piggybacking on the teachings of current school programs.”

The Choice Program is designed to encourage children to respect themselves and others while preparing for their futures. Officers participating in the program will talk about the dangers of drug use and gang involvement, as well as the consequences of criminal activity. The students, who range from grade five through nine, will also have the opportunity to address issues like peer pressure and the importance of self-esteem.

The officers volunteering their time to the Choice Program come from both the South Bay House of Correction and the Nashua Street Jail. Many of them have lived in Boston and neighboring areas their whole lives and welcome the opportunity to give back to their communities.

Both Cummings School 5th grade teachers Rock Mastrangelo and Mary Watson were very appreciative of the discussions that these Sheriff’s Department officers had with their classrooms. They both echoed Principal Gill’s thoughts by saying that the dialog these officers had helped to reinforce values that they are trying to instill on the students.

Both of the classes had listened closely to the Sheriff’s Department Officers and had asked many very thoughtful questions on topics from affects on smoking to building up responsibility with parents.

Corporal Derosa walked each of the classes through a demonstration on how not to judge anyone based on looks. He helped them to realize that you can’t judge a book by its cover. He explained, “It is about the person inside the clothes that count. It is about respecting each other.”

At the end of both sessions, Deputy Stangle was very impressed with both of the classes. “They both were very responsive classes. It was a great feeling to teach them and to learn from them as well.”

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