by: DAVID F. ASHTON - G.R.E.A.T. instructor and Transit Police Officer Kristi Butcher awards a student from one of her classes at Hosford. As the school year came to a close, there were various observances and celebrations at elementary and middle schools. One of those was at Hosford Middle School.

On May 14, Portland Police Officers made their way into the school to honor students who had completed their “Gang Resistance Education And Training” (G.R.E.A.T.) program.

“About 150 students went through our 13-week G.R.E.A.T. training,” remarked the program’s coordinator and Youth Services Division Officer, Michael Paresa. “Here at Hosford, the students are six, seventh, and eighth graders.”

The curriculum, Paresa told THE BEE, is about learning “life skills”. “These are skills like anger management, good decision-making – and, too, staying away from drugs, alcohol, and gangs.”

In addition to administrating the program, Paresa said he enjoyed being with the students he instructed at Hosford. “For me, the best part is getting to know the kids, and seeing them get to know me as more than just ‘a uniform and gear’ – but as a real person.”

During the short ceremony, Officers Chris Burley, Kristi Butcher, and Mike Paresa – who had all taught classes at the school – thanked the students, and awarded small prizes to exemplary youngsters.

It wasn’t easy – especially on the hottest day of the year, to date – for the kids to sit still during the program, while they watched stacks of pizza boxes being brought in and placed on serving tables. But they did, and shortly were rewarded, because as always, the G.R.E.A.T. “graduation” ended with a pizza party!

It wasn’t long until the spicy slices disappeared into hungry kids. Officers hoped that lessons learned will help these youngsters grow up to be model citizens.

To learn more about the G.R.E.A.T. Program, contact Officer Mike Paresa at 503/823-2186, or e-mail him at: HYPERLINK "mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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