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Spotlight: Ansonia

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School personnel learn
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Ansonia sentences
kids to … gym time?

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Sentencing Kids to Gym Time

Ansonia School Resource Officer Michael Barry would rather turn kids into warriors than arrest them.

This is the third school year that Barry has run a program called The 5:30 A.M. Warriors, a martial arts class that teaches discipline and serves as a diversion program for minor misbehavior. Some kids are assigned to take the early morning judo class in lieu of being arrested. Others are there by choice.

“I love the martial arts. I love what it’s done for me in terms of discipline and self esteem,” said Barry. He sees his “Warriors” deriving the same kind of benefit from the program. Many kids get in trouble because they are trying to impress their friends, but during Barry’s class “there is no audience,” he explained. Kids with discipline problems are interacting with highly respectful students who model better behavior.

The program started as a volunteer effort by Barry, with the district kicking in for equipment and its food service providing free breakfasts. In its second year, The 5:30 A.M. Warriors expanded to serve more students through Just.START funding. Now the program continues with Barry serving as a volunteer and looking for ways to add an academic component.

Last year, 20 students were diverted to the program and another 53 voluntarily participated. That’s about 10 percent of the students at Ansonia High School. Barry encourages kids to undertake the program, especially when he sees them struggling with their behavior. “I give you a chance to get this out of your system every day,” he tells them.

The program means that Barry’s alarm clock is set for 4:30 a.m., which he said is a small price to pay to have such an impact on the students. “I jump out of bed to come here,” he said.





Content Last Modified on 11/2/2016 2:37:06 PM