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Thousands of students in 84 school districts in New Jersey will receive training in preventing gun violence from the Sandy Hook Promise organization thanks to a federal grant, the Department of Education announced this week.

Sandy Hook Promise will help train students, educators and school administrators on ways to identify, assess and intervene with those exhibiting at-risk behaviors through its Start With Hello, Say Something and SOS Signs of Suicide programs.

Sandy Hook Promise is a nonprofit based in Newtown, Connecticut, led by family members of the victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

The names of the districts receiving the training were unavailable Friday. The $626,000 program will be funded through a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to Sandy Hook Promise, Start With Hello trains students to be more socially inclusive and connected to one another; Say Something trains students to recognize signs, especially on social media, of an individual who may be a threat to themselves or others and how to reach out to a trusted adult; SOS Signs of Suicide teaches students, educators and school administrators how to spot the warning signs of youth suicide and how to intervene before self-harm occurs.

To date, Sandy Hook Promise has trained more than 3.5 million youth and adults in at least one of its Know the Signs programs in all 50 states.

Education-related bills advance

• Legislation that requires public schools to administer written screenings for depression for students in seventh through 12th grades has cleared the Senate Education Committee. The screenings would be administered by the school physician or school nurse and would consist of a written self-report questionnaire to be selected by the commissioner of health. The bill would require a board of education to notify the parent or guardian of a student whose screening for depression detects a suspected deviation from the recommended standard. A student could be exempt from the depression screening upon written request of a parent or guardian.

• An Assembly panel approved two measures this week mandating a 90-day suspension of school bus drivers with multiple motor vehicle moving violations in a three-year period and creating a safety education program for bus drivers and aides. The bills will be considered by the Assembly speaker for a floor vote.

• Legislation that would require financial literacy instruction in grades six through eight has cleared the Senate Education Committee. The purpose of the instruction would be to provide middle school students with the basic financial literacy necessary for sound financial decision-making. The bill heads to the full Senate for consideration.

• Legislation that would require school boards to adopt policies concerning students’ use of sunscreen and sun-protective clothing at school and school-sponsored events has cleared the Senate Education Committee and heads to the full Senate for consideration.

High marks for Atlantic County N.J. Youth Corps

The Atlantic County office of the New Jersey Youth Corps earned high marks for fiscal and program compliance during a biennial state monitoring visit, the county announced.

The New Jersey Youth Corps program is a statewide initiative to assist people ages 16 to 25 who are not enrolled in school to complete their high school education, gain necessary work skills for employment and increase their academic performance levels.

State representatives toured the facility in Pleasantville, administered surveys to the program’s at-risk youth and reviewed community service projects that included landscaping, painting and the placement of flower boxes to help beautify the community.

Asked to describe the Youth Corps program, participants replied with “helpful, caring, welcoming and efficient.” They also gave the program an overall rating of outstanding.

Pulitzer-winning poet Komunyakaa to read at Stockton

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa will read from his new and collected poems at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Campus Center theater in Galloway Township.

Admission is $10 for the general public, $5 for seniors and $3 for students.

*This story has been updated to reflect an increase in the number of schools being trained by Sandy Hook Promise.

Contact: 609-272-7251 Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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