Pubdate: Sat, 18 Dec 2004
Source: Virgin Islands Daily News, The (VI)
Copyright: 2004 Virgin Islands Daily News
Author: Tanya Mannes


The V.I. Education Department has received a $1 million grant from the
federal government to implement new drug and violence prevention
programs at selected public and private schools, Education
Commissioner Noreen Michael has announced.

"Actions aimed at reducing incidences of violence and drug use among
our school-aged population should not solely be reactive," Michael
said in a statement released Monday. "We must determine why students
engage in these activities and address the root causes."

This grant falls under the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities
Act of No Child Left Behind. The Education Department and the Human
Services Department began work last year to address drug and safety
problems among students and to evaluate existing programs in the first
year of this two-year grant.

The territory is expected to be eligible for two more grant cycles, a
total of six years, according to Michael.

Students will participate in programs that have been designed for
their age and grade level. Children in kindergarten will participate
in a safety education program, "Talking about Touching," and children
in grades 1 through 6 will be trained in the nationally recognized
conflict-resolution program Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies,

In the Life Skills program, students in middle and high school will
learn about violence prevention and the dangers of drug use -
particularly of the "gateway drugs" marijuana and alcohol - and will
receive training in resisting peer pressure.

"Children in elementary school have very different drug and safety
issues from those experienced by middle- and high school-aged
students," Michael said.

Teachers in the St. Thomas-St. John District were trained in September
for the PATHS and Life Skills programs. The St. Croix training for
teachers was canceled because of inclement weather and will be
rescheduled, according to Virginia Dargan, a spokeswoman for the
Education Department.

Schools currently implementing the programs are: Joseph Sibilly
Elementary, Peace Corps, Julius Sprauve and Seventh-day Adventist
schools; Bertha Boschulte Middle School; and Charlotte Amalie and
Ivanna Eudora Kean high schools, according to Dargan. The Edith
Williams Alternative Academy also will offer the program.

Both PATHS and Life Skills will include training for parents to
support their children's school learning.
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