WOONSOCKET — On Wednesday, students participating in Woonsocket High School’s Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO) program attended the Rhode Island Police Academy graduation at CCRI's Lincoln campus.
Participants Joel Ilarraza, Abdoul Dieng, Brian Garcia, Pedro Lopez and Murtada Shaker viewed the ceremony from front-row seats, seeing first-hand where hard work can lead. Words of caution and wisdom were bestowed upon the cadets by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, and keynote speaker David DelBonis, among others. By the conclusion of the ceremony, each student was envisioning his own future success at the academy.
"This is going to be me,” said Ilarraza, whose remark is exactly what ELO is all about. ELO offers WHS students an alternative pathway to course credit, with projects designed by students, based on personal interest. ELO students move beyond the requirements of a traditional internship, by being proficiency-based, rather than time-based. Students are supported by a community mentor who provides hands-on, real-life experiences, and a teacher mentor who assures the projects meet state standards and are of the highest quality.
Exploring separate avenues within policing, including K-9, patrol, and the DEA, these young men have become a bonded group under the mentorship of Woonsocket Police Chief Thomas Carey.
Since October, they have been meeting weekly, during which time they have toured the police department, interviewed officers, and reviewed the laws police are expected to uphold.
“Since joining ELO,” says Garcia, “I am very excited about my future in going to college to follow my dream.”
Upon completion of their project, students will present their learning to a panel and earn an elective credit that will appear on their transcript.