The visit by U.S. Atty. Peter Neronha to Ferri Middle School on June 18 was “a big win” for local efforts to warn young people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, Tri-Town Community Action Agency CEO Joe DeSantis said.
“Bringing in someone of Atty. Neronha’s caliber is a big win, and a clear sign that our community of caring adults extends beyond the borders of Johnston,” DeSantis explained. “Most importantly, it shows that the efforts of Tri-Town, the Johnston Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, and the school department are paying off by reinforcing our message of encouraging healthy and positive choices by our kids.”
Following his visit, which also included a detailed presentation by Investigator David Neill covering such topics as marijuana, e-cigarettes, and alcohol, Neronha praised Tri-Town and the Coalition for their work in coordinating the event.
“Our collaboration has been great, because it’s gotten us access to kids that would be difficult to get otherwise,” Neronha said. “Working with our local partners helps us learn how kids think and how we can reach them, so it’s been a really good partnership.”
Ferri Principal Dennis Morrell said “it was exciting” to welcome Neronha and Neill to the middle school to speak to the students.
“To know somebody that high up [in his profession] is so focused on helping kids, it’s great,” said Morrell. “Helping the students learn to make healthy decisions is the most important thing, and we try to do that throughout the entire school community.”
Patricia Sweet, coordinator for the Coalition, explained that Neronha’s visit is one more example of the organization’s dedication to providing positive messages to young people.
“Our top priority is giving kids the tools they need to avoid destructive decisions and realize their value as productive, healthy people,” said Sweet. “By hosting speakers like Atty. Neronha and bringing that message to kids in school, we’re ensuring that young people know there are many adults – in addition to their parents and teachers – who care about them and their future.”