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Groveland Detective Josh Sindoni, a three-year member of the department, is the town’s D.A.R.E. officer.

GROVELAND — After a 12-year hiatus, the Groveland Police Department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education program has been restarted and, according to Chief Jeffrey Gillen, it has been well received by school officials and parents.

“We’re excited to have D.A.R.E. up and running after more than 10 years without it,” Gillen said. “Through this program, we’re reaching students at a young age to not only educate them about the basics of keeping themselves and others safe, but to help them make responsible and positive decisions into their adult lives.”

Gillen stressed that the program, which is being funded through the department’s budget, isn’t all about saying no to drugs.

“It’s been revamped. It’s not just about the drugs anymore,” Gillen said, adding that students will be taught the importance of knowing their home addresses and how to call 911.

Leading the program is D.A.R.E. officer Detective Josh Sindoni, a three-year member of the department.

“He’s very passionate about this and he’s a father of three young kids so it allows him to really relate to the kids,’ Gillen said.

In October, Sindoni completed two weeks of D.A.R.E. training with the New Hampshire Fire Academy in Concord and is certified to teach the D.A.R.E. curriculum, which addresses drug use, violence, bullying, internet safety and other issues that impact students’ lives.

Sindoni’s first day inside the Elmer S. Bagnall Elementary School last week involved visiting kindergarten classes as part of an eight-week curriculum centered on helping students make responsible decisions.

“The first session went great,” Sindoni said. “All the kids were excited about learning and were engaged in the activity.”

During his first week with students, Sindoni went over the procedure for dialing 911. Simulating different scenarios, kindergartners learned when they should and should not call 911, indicating their answers with a thumbs up or thumbs down. Sindoni also stressed the importance of the children learning their home addresses, since that would be the first thing a dispatcher asks on a 911 call.

Over the next several weeks, Sindoni will return to each of Bagnall Elementary’s kindergarten classes, talking to students on topics including “stranger danger”, prescription drugs, bullying and understanding street signs.

Sindoni’s work at the elementary school marks the revival of Groveland’s D.A.R.E. program, which was in place from 1993 to 2006 under the leadership of Lt. Dwight McDonald until it was halted due to lack of funding.

Gillen said he was unable to obtain additional money for the program and instead is stretching the department’s resources to make it happen.

“I just believe in the program and I’ll do whatever I have to to get it back,” Gillen said.

From The Daily News of Newburyport