5th Graders Celebrate Annual LEAD Graduation

Corporal Maureen Mcbride, Patrolman Jayme Higgins, and counselor Jeanna Ribon celebrate this year’s LEAD graduates. (Photo courtesy Howell Police)

  HOWELL – Nearly 500 5th graders among the Howell School District graduated from the LEAD Program, learning good decision making when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

  The LEAD program, Law Enforcement Against Drugs, is an evidence-based drug and alcohol prevention, program, sponsored by the Mendez foundation, and the LEAD organization. The program is put on by Corporal Maureen Mcbride and Patrolman Jayme Higgins, Howell Police School Resource Officers, along with Jeanna Ribon, the student assistance counselor for the Howell K-8 school district.

  “The curriculum is a 10-lesson program that we bring to the students once a month during the school year. The program teaches good decision making, drug and alcohol awareness and safety, as well as peer pressure refusal skills, and healthy communication skills,” Higgins said.

  Higgins discussed how the first lessons of the program is about creating short term goals for the students; whether it’s practicing for tryouts for a sports team, joining a club, making new friends, getting better grades, or any other activity that is important to them.

Kids made thank you cards to LEAD coordinators. (Photo courtesy Howell Police)

  “We help them understand the process, by explaining that we the teachers have a short-term goal of completing the program with them, and having a graduation at the end of the year,” Higgins said.

  This year’s graduation involved a group game review of topics covered in LEAD, a question-and-answer section about middle school, a K9 demonstration by Corporal J. Moore and his partner, and raffle prizes.

  The Howell Alliance sponsored drawstring bags for every fifth grader to use as they enter middle school along with several prizes like stress relief balls, headphones, and inspirational buttons.

Students watched a K9 demo on graduation day. (Photo courtesy Howell Police)

  “All of this would not be possible without the ongoing relationship we have with the Howell Alliance,” Higgins said.

  Although they share their time in all of the Howell school buildings, Ribon, McBride, and Higgins spend a majority of time in the Middle Schools.

  “We all love teaching the program and enjoy creating a relationship with the students that can carry on into middle school. We all enjoy being a familiar face to the new 6th graders as they enter middle school,” Higgins said.