DENNISVILLE—The local Municipal Alliance Committee met at the Academy Road School on Oct. 1 with newly appointed coordinator Anthony McCurdy emphasizing a need to expand involvement in the program within the local community.
The Alliance is busy with anticipated participation in upcoming events like the Home and School Association’s Trunk or Treat scheduled for Oct. 27 from 5-7 pm at the Academy Road School and the Senior Seminar on Nov. 6 (with Cape Assist), at the Senior Center in Dennisville.
In addition to these one-time events, the Alliance is involved in a number of ongoing activities throughout the school year. For instance, there’s one called Banana Splits for grades 5-8, a five week program scheduled for later this year. “An excellent program,” says McCurdy. “It’s run by Monica DiVito, a school guidance counselor.”
Banana Splits involves children whose families have experienced divorce. The program gives them a chance to socialize and engage in group sessions with the idea of helping them cope with stresses they might be feeling.
“We have to tap into different groups and reach out to new constituencies to make the program more holistic.” McCurdy said.
One suggestion for improving that outreach at the high school level is to connect with the Middle Township Municipal Alliance since a majority of Dennis high school students attend Middle Township High School.
Surveys results reveal that one in seven Cape May County residents under age 14 try alcohol. Just one of many statistics that underscore the importance of programs like those developed by groups like the Municipal Alliance.
According to the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA), almost half of our county’s students (49.1%) report alcohol use in a 30 day period. That figure exceeds the state average.
Township Committee member Al DiCicco, representing that body at the meeting, noted that high school students are among those at greatest risk. A retired school administrator with over 30 years experience working with programs like those espoused by the Municipal Alliance, DiCicco said that the key to combating the problem of underage drinking is “filling time. In high school, kids have to fill their own time. Organized recreation activities, such as sports, are readily available until kids reach high school. Teens need things to do, a place to go where it’s safe to hang out.”
He suggested that a more concerted effort be made to out to area athletic associations and recreation departments. One idea to get local kids involved is a Dennis Township (School) Alumni Association. Such a group would allow local kids to keep in touch with the community.
“A one-time event, like a reunion, could be used as a spring board to develop future events and activities.” McCurdy said. “We need to connect with people we’re not reaching, such as the high school kids of Dennis Township.”