Sara Swanson

Manchester 4th graders graduate from T.E.A.M.

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At the T.E.A.M. graduation, six students read their essays about what they had learned in T.E.A.M.

At the T.E.A.M. graduation, Casey Kochen, one of six students selected, reads her essay about what she had learned in T.E.A.M.

Thursday evening in Klager’s gym, 84 fourth graders graduated from T.E.A.M., Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office School Liaison Program. Fourth graders have been participating in T.E.A.M., which stands for “Teaching, Educating And Mentoring,” every Monday this semester with Deputy Jessica Wion. The program grew out of the old D.A.R.E. program that was focused primarily on drug use, and covers a variety topics including fire safety, gun safety, internet safety, as well as how to avoid drugs and alcohol.`

At the end of the multi-week program, the students each wrote an essay about what they had learned in T.E.A.M. They read their essays aloud in front of judges from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department. Two students from each of the three classes were chosen as essay representatives. These students were honored earlier this month at a Civic Club meeting.

Principal Karin Villarreal started the program off by introducing special guests, Superintendent Cherie Vannatter, School Board president Christine Fegan, School Board member Mike Austin and T.E.A.M. instructor Deputy Wion. Deputy Wion then recounted a terrifying story of her coworker and his wife barely escaping from their burning house and implored the audience to always have two ways out of every room as well as to practice fire drills with their children. Principal Villarreal then introduced the six essay representatives: Casey Kochen and Joseph Pawlicki from Mrs. Hanewald’s class, Kannon Duffing and Emma Paxton from Mr. Niehaus’s class, and Ryan Kelly and Claire Marsh from Mrs. O’Mara’s class. These six read their essays aloud and received medals. Afterwards each student received a certificate and shook hands with the special guests. At the end of the program, all of the students sang “Lean on Me.”

Many schools who used to offer T.E.A.M. have had to stop for lack of funding. Manchester is able to continue because of a generous, anonymous donation for that purpose.

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