Students learn fast facts from Hawaii Counterdrug personnel

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Andrew Jackson
  • 154 WG PA

Tech. Sgt. Andrew Jackson
Sgt. Bernie "Buma" Bumanglag, Hawaii Army National Guard with the Hawaii Counter Drug Stay On Track Program, teach a group of sixth graders at Aiea Elementary School on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, about the GUARD decision making process. This lesson is a part of a semester long drug awareness curriculum designed to give school children the necessary skills and knowledge, to choice a drug-free life.
OAHU, Hawaii - Thousands of miles from the sports car racing hotbed of the southern United States, sixth grade students at Aiea Elementary School in Hawaii, are learning the rudiments of effective racing. However, rather than using these skills to drive a car, the lessons are intended to help youth drive their lives and help them stay on the right track.

Hawaii Counterdrug personnel teach the life skills through the Stay on Track Program. The program is designed to give students tools to help them choose a drug free life.

Aiea is a community of Pacific Islanders whose population has a disproportionate number of incarcerations when compared to the rest of the population on the Island and most of the offences are drug related, said Sgt. Bernie "Buma" Bumanglag Hawaii Counterdrug Civil Operations Team Member. "That is why we are here in Aiea. We hope to reach this generation to stem the tide of the drug culture, These kids can effect change in their families and communities through the knowledge they gain in the course," said Bumanglag.

The SOT program not only teaches life skills, it meets the National Educational Standards in Health, Life Science and Language Arts. Armed with a curriculum that promotes teamwork through interactive games, discussions, role-play, writing and reading exercises, and research projects. And the Guardsmen offer instruction that appeals to all learning styles and educational levels.

"I think it [SOT] is a really good program. It touches on all of our benchmarks, especially health and life sciences," said Lori Yamada, Aiea Elementary sixth grade teacher. "Helping the students with decision making, and being aware is important for kids at this age."

Sgt. "Buma", and Tech. Sgt. Priscilla Bastatas, substance abuse counselors with the Counterdrug Civil Operations team, teach two groups of sixth graders about alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, and prescription drug use and abuse each week.

"Having the Guard Members come in the class to teach has a good effect on the students. It gives them career possibilities and choices. The course is relate-able, and Sergeant Buma teaches it really well." said Yamada. "It is important especially for these kids. I do not know if they have any plans for the future, but the program helps them organize their thoughts and set their sights on the future."

The SOT program is an evidence-based and standardized program that supports local drug prevention efforts. In order to measure the success of the program, students are surveyed at the beginning and again at the conclusion of the 12-lesson course. "The surveys play an important role in the program," said Bastatas. "They demonstrate that the students have grown in their knowledge and improved their attitude toward drug use."

The Counterdrug Stay On Track program and it facilitators are offering value to the education system and valuable lessons to the island students about a drug free path through life. said Dr Kevin Lemire Director of Operations of the National Center for Prevention and Research Solutions (NCPRS). "Hawaii facilitators are a very dedicated group; it is wonderful working with them."

The Counterdrug Stay On Track program and it's teachers are offering a way to diversify the classroom experience for the students with no impact on the school's budget. The Guardsmen present a fresh new relate-able curriculum with integrated multimedia, and textbooks. According to The National Center for Prevention and Research Solutions (NCPRS) the cost of the 12 lesson sessions "Buma" and Bastatas are presenting would cost the school system over $1,000 in time and materials. The program is presented to the schools at no cost to the state or the school system.

"We make connections with the youth whom we help in this program. We are always running into the kids we help, and they are excited to see us," said Bumanglag. "I felt like I had my own cheering section at the Great Aloha Run last week. There had to be 20 students yelling Go Sgt "Buma" during the last mile of the run. I really want to help the youth stay on track and stay drug free, this is so much more than just a job. SOT is a great program, it helps, it's proven, and I like that."