Marietta City Schools school resource officer Dianna Hively talks to Marietta Middle School secretary Brandi Wittekind in the school office Thursday as seventh-grader Riley Allen, seeking help with a damaged backpack, stands at the counter. Hively stepped in as the district SRO this year to replace Officer Pat Grogan, who retired. (Photo by Michael Kelly)
Dianna Hively’s office has the neat, clean, seldom-used look of a display in an furniture store.
Hively, the school resource officer for Marietta City Schools, doesn’t spend a lot of time in her home base, down the hall from the administrative center at Marietta Middle School.
“It’s a lot busier than I thought it would be,” she said Thursday morning.
Hively took over the schools post at the beginning of class this year, replacing Officer Pat Grogan, who retired. In addition to her duties as both an enforcer and a liaison between police and students, she’s continued as the district D.A.R.E. instructor for its four elementary schools, plus St. Mary Catholic School.
Her role as a positive police presence in the local schools is one she fell into by inclination, she said.
“I started with the D.A.R.E. program several years ago – I like kids, I have four of my own – and I’ve been planning for the SRO job for several years,” she said.
D.A.R.E. – Drug Abuse Resistance Education – is a national program that began in the early 1980s as a partnership between the Los Angeles Police Dept. and the Los Angeles Unified School District. Police officers were the instructors, and the curriculum was directed at elementary school students, urging them to avoid experimentation with and nonmedical use of drugs.
The D.A.R.E. curriculum has evolved over the decades, guided by large and lengthy studies about its effectiveness. The program continues to be delivered by police officers and other law enforcement personnel, in part because studies have established them as a source of information that students have found credible, but its delivery has changed to a more interactive, small-group project-based system. The organization also is developing curricula for younger kids and for middle and high school students.
It’s Hively’s fifth year as a D.A.R.E. officer, and she said she’s starting one of the new curricula for kindergartners and first grade students at Putnam Elementary.
“It’s all about making good choices, and gives the kids a positive interaction with police,” she said. “With the lesson plans, we try to make it fun.”
It’s been a busy start for her SRO function.
“The first day, we had a threat to a student and a kid suspended,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of vaping, we’ve had fights, alcohol brought to school – four kids charged in that. One kid brought his mom’s medication to school, and another kid went to the hospital over that. We’ve had inappropriate touching, one kid had three victims.”
Hively said the schools try to solve the problems internally, without resorting to sanctions, but she’s often called in to situations that require documentation.
“The schools work well with the kids, they don’t want them punished unless necessary,” she said.
Hively said she has the advantage of knowing many of the students through her work with D.A.R.E.
“Every kid from fifth grade on knows me, we’ve already had that contact,” she said.
Her office is in the district’s only middle school for a reason, she said.
“In high school, they’re starting to mature, thinking about careers and consequences,” she said. “Middle school, it’s a hard time for students, but there are lots of good students here. I like the way the principal (Brittany Schob) puts it: There are no bad students, only bad behaviors.”
Because the district is spread out among six buildings, she spends a lot of time traveling, and it’s challenging trying to schedule events like the D.A.R.E. classes when emergencies can come up anytime.
“Everyone works really well together, they have the kids’ best interests at heart,” she said. “I really like being the SRO, it’s even better than I expected. It’s busy. The days just fly by.”
Marietta Middle School principal Brittany Schob said Hively has been a welcome addition to the school environment.
“The students are familiar with her from D.A.R.E, and she does a great job for the whole district, she knows how to handle kids, how to talk to students,” Schob said. “It’s nice that she’s a familiar face, they have that connection with her. It’s a busy schedule, and she does a great job of balancing everything.”
Hively, 50, has an entire career of law enforcement, with more than 22 years with the Marietta Police Department, preceded by years of being a military police officer with the Army Reserve. She grew up in Lubeck, W.Va., graduated from Parkersburg South High School, and moved to Marietta more than two decades ago with her husband, who is a firefighter. She has a daughter in the Air Force, who is stationed at a base in Texas.
“I like law enforcement for the same reason I like being an SRO,” she said. “Every day is different.”
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Copyright © 2019 D.A.R.E. America. All Rights Reserved.