Aug. 24, 2005 — "The number-one factor for safety in the schools lies in your hands," Guardian Angel Arnaldo Salinas told a group of 30 public school monitors as they sat on the bleachers of the St. Croix Central High gym Wednesday morning. Salinas and fellow Angel John Ayala are back on St. Croix to implement the Guardian Angels Academy in selected public and private schools. The Department of Education's Safe and Drug-Free Schools program is funding the training. The monitors will be certified by the Guardian Angels when they complete the training.
The training program incorporates Guardian Angel techniques and experience into the curriculum to accentuate the importance of safety in schools. The New York Department of Education has approved and mandated the program for educators seeking certification as part of New York State's Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act.
Eileen Pennick, St. Croix's district manager for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program, said the local certification program is an important component of the continued accreditation of the territory's schools.
The schools involved in the Safe and Drug-Free program are St. Croix Central High, St. Croix Educational Complex, Pearl B. Larsen, Juanita Gardine, Elena Christian, John H. Woodson, Arthur A. Richards and the Positive Connections Schools. Also part of the program are the St. Patrick's, St. Mary's and Manor School.
Salinas told the monitors to "use your life experience and your senses to survive." Students have been caught on campus with weapons such as knives, machetes and guns. "We face an opposition that outguns us, the odds are against us," Salinas said. The 26-year Guardian Angels veteran emphasized to the monitors that the Angels have faced gangs and riots all over the world using the same time-tested techniques he will be showing the local school workers.
"When you don't have a weapon, you use your mouth to get out of a situation," Salinas said. The monitors were then taken through a series of scenarios that may occur on campus and given suggestions on ways to best handle violent situations.
"The monitors will practice the scenarios until they become second nature," Salinas said, adding that the monitors would also help put together a safety assessment for each school. "We will deal with the issues of each school individually," he said.
The training, which inludes CPR and rescue safety certification, will continue for seven days.
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