UNION, NJ – Twenty-two fifth grade students from Holy Spirit School celebrated their L.E.A.D. graduation program with their peers and parents on Tuesday morning.

The L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) program, in conjunction with the Union Police Department, provides programs to deter youths from drug use, drug related crimes, bullying and violence.  The program enforces mutual respect, goodwill and relations between law enforcement and their communities.

Along with Principal Armand Lamberti, Township Committeeman Manuel Figueiredo and Union Police Captain Robert Perez, Union policeman and L.E.A.D. officer Mike Loguidice addressed the students.

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“My four children, who are now between the ages of 19 to 26, went through this program also,” said Figueiredo.  “It’s an important part of your development and education.  Be respectful of yourself and those around you.  Good decisions, good consequences.  It’s that simple.”

Union Police Captain Robert Perez also spoke with the graduates.  “I know you’ve heard this many times, but the world is your oyster.  You have parents and a school who care about you.  The rest is really up to you.”

L.E.A.D. Officer Loguidice said he met with the fifth graders once a week for ten weeks.  Addressing the parents, Loguidice said, “it’s really a pleasure to come here and teach these students.  I get to see them progress over the ten weeks.”

Loguidice said the program teaches basic life skills, not just drug resistance.  He said the very first lesson was for the students to set goals for themselves.  “We teach them about peer pressure, decision making, managing their emotions so they can communicate with one another.  Then we get into the topic of substance resistance.”

“I can honestly say that this group was one hundred percent willing to participate in every single lesson,” said Loguidice.  "They are a great group of students."