Newark Mayor Sharpe James and Police Director Anthony Ambrose recently officiated over the graduation of 1,000 Newark, N.J., schoolchildren from the city’s Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program, the largest class in the national program’s 14-year history.

Newark students who successfully completed the program sat on the soccer field at the city’s new recreation center, hearing words of praise and support before enjoying a free lunch and a swimming session in the center’s year-old indoor pool.

The GREAT program was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in 1991 in partnership with the Phoenix Police Department. The 13-week curriculum includes classes on avoiding drugs, gangs, and violence, and building respect for self and others.

“Raise your hands if you’re going to be somebody,” James challenged the audience of fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders. All the children raised their hands. “That’s what it’s all about,” James said.
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