On Thursday, May 21, the auditorium at Hughes Middle School was filled with a crowd of energetic seventh graders who gathered to finalize their completion of the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT).  Others in attendance to congratulate the students included Councilwoman Cindi Delaney, Police Chief Troy Tanner and Deputy Chief Scott Taylor as well as several other officers and a few parents.


Officer Darrin Wilkins, far left, talks to the crowd of seventh graders who completed the GREAT program this year. Special guests also included Councilwoman Cindi Delaney, Police Chief Troy Tanner and Deputy Chief Scott Taylor. Photo by Stephanie Frehner.

Led by Officer Darrin Wilkins of the Mesquite Police Department, 167 of the nearly 198 students in seventh grade completed the course, learning how to avoid gangs, drugs, violence and other harmful behaviors that many youth experience today. This was Wilkins’ seventh year of teaching the program in Mesquite.

The 13-week program focuses on prevention as its primary objective along with educating students about the perils of delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership. Thanks to funding from the Nevada Community Partnership Coalition grant from the Substance Abuse and Treatment Agency, the students learn important skills ranging from communication to solving conflicts. The course even deals with another important factor in many children’s lives, bullying.

Towards the end of the course, students were directed to make a presentation that would demonstrate how they benefited from the course, what they learned and explain or show a way that they could help educate the community. Among the many entries was one that stood above all the others.


Autumn Boatright, Madison Julien. Nikita Eskelsen and Reagan Reid were selected with the best presentation with their cheerleading routine. See their presentation online at the MLN Facebook page. Photo by Stephanie Frehner.

A cheerleader-like presentation from four of the seventh grade girls was chosen by Officer Wilkins and demonstrated for the entire class during the Awards Ceremony Thursday. Autumn Boatright, Madison Julien, Nikita Eskelsen and Reagan Reid performed several cheers, delivering messages of resistance to smoking, drugs and gangs. To see their cheers, check out the Mesquite Local News Facebook page for a video.

Each graduate received a certificate of completion for the course and a shirt after shaking hands with their special guests before going about the rest of their school day.