From kindergarten until graduation, students in the Massapequa School District learn the value of making good and healthy choices. Unfortunately, sometimes they don’t and this is why the district implemented the Red Watch Band training program nine years ago.
“We don’t want a poor decision to become a fatal decision,” said Kim Hession, social worker at Massapequa High School’s Ames Campus. “It’s an intervention program. You can’t look at someone who’s in trouble and say, ‘That’s not my problem.’”
This year, 51 students in grades 9-12 completed the training and were recognized at an afterschool ceremony at Ames on Feb. 8. They received certificates, red bands and key cards with emergency tips. The training program included a two-hour alcohol emergency response class with Hession and high school social worker Joanne Waters, as well as a Red Cross-certified first aid, CPR and AED class with health teacher Michael LaBella.
The Red Watch Band initiative was spearheaded by Stony Brook University to reduce alcohol-related accidents among high school and college students by creating a “band” of teenagers looking out for each other. The district partners with the Massapequa Takes Action Coalition to offer the program each year and more than 450 students have been trained since its inception.
Students who complete the training know the signs and symptoms of toxic drinking and when to call for help. They learn life skills they can carry with them to college and beyond.
“Leaders are people who do the right thing, at the right time, regardless of who’s watching,” said Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Thomas Fasano.
Massapequa High School Principal Brian Conboy stressed the biggest lesson of the entire program.
“When good friends stick together, that’s how lives are saved,” said Conboy.
—Submitted by the Massapequa School District