Ahead of the curve

Another school year has come and gone with no harmful incidents to students or staff at Anna Maria Elementary School (AME).

In this day and age, safety has become a worry for all schools in this country. As a result, the Manatee County School District has opted to place armed personnel at all county schools to patrol the grounds and provide a first line of safety just in case the unthinkable should happen.

Here on Anna Maria Island, the Holmes Beach Police Department has been way ahead of the curve for years, doing a stellar job of protecting the grade-schoolers with a school resource officer and educating them with the DARE (Drug Awareness Resistance and Education) program.

At the AME Awards Ceremony last Wednesday, Holmes Beach Police Officer and AME School Resource Officer Josh Fleischer and Police Chief Bill Tokajer handed out DARE completion certificates to fifth-graders, with former resource officer Brian Copeman also present.

Select students read essays they wrote about the DARE class and what they had learned about the hazards of drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

As the uniformed law enforcement officials stood in the auditorium, it was clear to all that they were there not just to provide protection but also to be a very human and intricate part of the program and these kids’ lives. At the close of the ceremony, parents and children gave the officers a loud and heartfelt round of applause.

It was just their way – the Island way – of saying thank you to those who keep the peace in paradise.