TEAM building

May 18, 2015
Sgt. Tony Slocum of the Indiana State Police address the audience at TEAM graduation at Hart Middle School Monday evening.

Sgt. Tony Slocum of the Indiana State Police address the audience during TEAM graduation at Hart Middle School Monday evening.

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

Hart Police Chief Dan Leimback

Hart Police Chief Dan Leimback

HART — Hart Middle School fifth graders have spent the last nine weeks learning about ways to prevent crime; promote safety; and serve as good citizens, during the TEAM program with instructor Sgt. Kevin Skipski of the Hart Police Department.

Skipski, Hart Police Chief Dan Leimback and the middle school teachers involved in this year’s program presented the students with their TEAM graduation diplomas during a ceremony Monday evening, May 18, in the middle school auditorium.

TEAM is an acronym for Teaching, Education and Mentoring. “It unites educators, law enforcement and students in preventing crime,” Skipski said.

Guest speaker for the graduation ceremony was Sgt. Tony Slocum with the Indiana State Police. Slocum said he grew up in inner city Indianapolis raised by a single mom.

Sgt. Kevin Skipski of the Hart Police Department, who is TEAM instructor at Hart Middle School.

Sgt. Kevin Skipski of the Hart Police Department, who is TEAM instructor at Hart Middle School.

“My dad was never in the picture,” Slocum said. “I tell you that because I want most people to know that, especially the youth, because it doesn’t matter the situation you have in your life, you have to make the best of those circumstances.”

Slocum said he worked hard to graduate from college and was the first person in his family to obtain a degree. “The number-one thing that gets people out of a bad situation is education,” he said.

Prior to working for ISP, he worked for the Indiana Department of Corrections in a medium/maximum security prison, where one of his inmates was legendary boxer Mike Tyson.

“Eighty percent of the men in that prison did not have a high school diploma,” he said.

The sergeant, who incorporated a lot of humor into his speech, offered many other words of good advice for the kids. “Do what needs to be done now, so you can do what you want to do later,” he said. He also told the kids to “live your best life” and “don’t be afraid to fail — failure is a part of life.” He also encouraged the students to be themselves. “If we were all the same, imagine how boring life would be,” he said.

HMS student Kloe Dumont reads her TEAM essay.

HMS student Kloe Dumont reads her TEAM essay.

“Be nice to other people,” Slocum said. The officer told the story of a boy who was constantly bullied by other kids who would kick his books out of his hands every day when he walked home from school. One day, another boy stood up for him and walked him home, so the bullying would finally stop. That bullying victim eventually grew up to become a world-renowned surgeon. “He said that he would have gone home and hurt himself if that guy had not walked him home,” Slocum said.

In addition to Slocum’s speech, the audience heard students read their TEAM essays. Four essays written by Jacob Gordon, Angeles Lara, Kendal Williamson and Kloe Dumont were chosen as the top ones in each class.

HMS student Kendal Williamson reads her TEAM essay.

HMS student Kendal Williamson reads her TEAM essay.

The TEAM program was developed in 1998, Skipski said, and it includes instruction about fire safety, internet safety, drug awareness and several other topics in addition to crime prevention.

“I have been in law enforcement for 18 years, and TEAM has been the most rewarding part of my career,” Skipski said.

 

 

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