Students at Harms Elementary School proudly wore their official FBI Junior Special Agent badges during a graduation ceremony today where more than 150 students were recognized by representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The students represent the first graduates of the FBI Junior Special Agent Program in Southwest Detroit. Fourth and fifth graders at the school completed five weeks of training conducted by the FBI.
Special Agent-In-Charge of the Detroit Division Andrew G. Arena, Head of the FBI for the State of Michigan, spoke to the students during several training sessions. Arena is a kindergarten graduate of Harms Elementary School.
“It was quite moving when he showed up for the first session,” said Michelle Bouchard, FBI Investigative Operations Analyst, who facilitated the program. “He told them, ‘You can be whatever you want to be. I’m from this neighborhood and this is what I’ve achieved.’ I think that really showed them that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, if you work hard, you can achieve anything.”
During the training sessions, the students learned about how law enforcement works and how they can make a difference in the community.
At the ceremony, each student received a certificate of completion, badge, and credentials stating they are official FBI Junior Special Agents. Several students also spoke about what they learned through the program.
“I really enjoyed all of the presentations because I’ve always wanted to learn how they do their jobs,” said Esmeralda Varela, a fifth grader at Harms Elementary School. “I enjoyed the SWAT team a lot because they talked about defending themselves, and I think everyone should know how to defend themselves.”
The goal behind the program was to encourage students to make the right choices, whether they decide to pursue a career in federal law enforcement, or with any career, said Todd Mayberry, FBI Assistant Special Agent In Charge.
“We discussed anti-bullying, self-defense, physical fitness, and a ton of other issues specific to this age group,” Mayberry said. “The biggest issue for me was clearing up the misconceptions about law enforcement, and helping the students to see the positive things that we do in the community.”
Students Also Recognized for Winning Diversity Art Fair Poster Contest
During the graduation ceremony, a group of art students at Harms Elementary School were also presented with a $125 check from the Detroit Federal Executive Board for winning a poster contest based on their definition of diversity.
The contest was extended to Detroit students in December 2011.
Three schools were selected based on grade level. EMAN Hamilton Academy K-2 students will receive a $100 prize; Harms Elementary School students received a $125 prize; and Farwell Elementary-Middle School will receive a $150 prize. The schools can decide how to use the prize money.