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GROVELAND — Chief Jeffrey Gillen announced this week that fifth grade Bagnall Elementary School students graduated from the Groveland Police Department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program. 

On May 29, 55 fifth-grade students completed a 10-week curriculum centered on a number of topics designed to help students choose to lead lives free from violence, substance use and other unhealthy behaviors.

The program focuses on self-awareness and management, responsible decision making, understanding others’ relationships and communication skills, and handling responsibilities and challenges, according to a press release.

Detective Josh Sindoni led the course, which was reinstated this winter at Bagnall. The program had been in place from 1993 to 2006 under the leadership of Lt. Dwight McDonald until it was halted due to a lack of funding.

Throughout the 10 weeks, Sindoni spent time educating students on topics including understanding stress, peer pressure, bullying, and the effects of smoking and alcohol on the human body.

“I am very proud to have been able to bring this program back to the Bagnall School and I want to commend Detective Sindoni for his excellent leadership this year,” Gillen said in the release.

“Today’s D.A.R.E. program encompasses more than ‘just saying no.’ It’s about giving students the tools they need to face any number of challenges so that they can make healthy decisions.”

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