Brentwood fifth-graders graduate anti-gang course

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Fifth-grade students at Brentwood Southwest Elementary School just completed a course designed to combat gang activity.

The GREAT program stands for Gang Resistance Education and Training. A group of 185 students spent several weeks in the classroom with officers from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office.

"It gets the kids to talk about bullying, making decisions, communication, gangs and anger," says Officer Mike McEwen.

The graduates shared some of the lessons they learned with News 12’s Danielle Campbell.

“We actually learned not to do drugs, and not to be in gangs, to respect people and to treat people nicely,” says Erick Morales.

“If someone tries to bring you down, do not let your happiness go - believe in yourself. And if a bully is picking on you, you have to go to the nearest teacher and tell someone,” says Angel Hendrix.

Students who complete the eight-week program get a diploma, a sheriff's badge and a bracelet that says “Choose to be great!”

Robert and Elizabeth Mickens, whose daughter Nisa was murdered by suspected gang members in Brentwood last year, were happy the kids completed the course.

“It means a lot to me that they are being taught,” said Robert Mickens.

Still, they would like to see the program expanded.

“It is very important to start at the elementary school level, but they have to keep it going throughout school,” says Robert.

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