HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Nearly 400 fifth graders from the Hattiesburg Public School District attended a graduation ceremony hosted by the Hattiesburg Police Department.
The students went through a six-week program at their schools that taught them about gang resistance.
The G.R.E.A.T (Gang Resistance Education And Training) program has been in place since 2009.
It teaches the kids the importance of life skills such as conflict resolution and good decision making rather than using violence.
Individual awards were given out for essays from the students as well as an overall spirit award.
"This program pretty much taught them how to identify gangs and violence," said Lt. Allen Murray, G.R.E.A.T. program lead instructor. "Decision making models to help avoid conflict and also how to communicate effectively and identify positive groups and to respect one another. It pretty much signifies the six weeks that these children have put into the program. Hopefully they will be very successful using the skills that they have learned."
Motivational speaker Dwight Owens spoke to the kids about overcoming adversity and choosing to make a difference.
The fifth graders from Hawkins Elementary took home the trophy for the overall spirit award.