Riverhead’s Pulaski Street School students stood up against drugs on Friday, June 1, at the 33rd Annual Say NO to Drugs March sponsored by the Riverhead Community Awareness Program, a non-profit organization dedicated to youth drug awareness and prevention.
Sergeant Sean Cassidy from the New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force was the guest of honor at the event, which was moved indoors because of rain.
“Sgt. Cassidy is such a positive role model and the students love him,” said Felicia Scocozza, executive director of Riverhead CAP. “As a CAP volunteer at Pulaski, he not only gives the students tools to make healthy decisions and avoid substance abuse, he models them through his interactions. He clearly recognizes the potential of Riverhead’s youth and he is right there on the front lines when it comes to offering his support, knowledge, and experience.”
In addition to numerous students and parents sporting anti-drug shirts signs, Senator Kenneth LaValle, Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski, Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, Dr. Aurelia Henriquez, ADA Saam Jalayer, and Undersheriff Steve Kuehhas were also in attendance.
Owen Karlson, who won the fifth grade essay contest, received a $100 gift card, donated by Tanger Outlets.
“Kids have the biggest voices in their schools and community,” said Sgt. Cassidy. “They can make a huge difference through simple actions like helping a friend and being a positive role model. I’m thrilled to be able to help through my participation in the CAP program and the Riverhead Community Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free Youth.”
CAP has been providing drug and alcohol prevention, education, and counseling programs for the Riverhead Central School District since 1983. The organization is best known for its two-year prevention program serving more than 800 fifth and sixth graders in Pulaski Street School each year.
The Life Skills program, taught by community volunteers and student peer leaders, concludes with the annual “Say NO to Drugs March” that wraps up the school year. Although the goal of the program is to prevent and delay underage drinking and drug use in youth, its evidence-based foundation is rooted in building self-esteem and increasing healthy decision-making skills.