By Terry Rogers
On Friday, December 12, the First State Force, a band made up of law enforcement and corrections professionals, performed two concerts at Mispillion Elementary. The band uses popular music to teach the importance of preserving their safety by avoiding drugs, standing up to bullying and violence while respecting others.
“The band promotes positive actions to help children understand why they need to stand up to bullying,” said Mike Hilligoss, Assistant Principal at Mispillion Elementary. “The students can dance and have fun while the band explains the importance of being nice and having a positive impact in the school.”
Officer Teresa Bloodsworth, one of the Milford School District School Resource Officers, introduced the band. Officer Bloodsworth was a member of the First State Force for several years and joined them onstage for a song during the concert.
“This group of law enforcement officers is here to talk to you about safety and keeping yourself in a positive light,” Officer Bloodworth told the children. “They are going to do it in an interesting way, though. Feel free to get up and dance. In fact, they encourage you to get up and dance.”
When the band began, the children seemed unsure of what they were supposed to do. However, within minutes, several of them stood up to dance. By the second song the children were in the back of the gym, dancing and enjoying themselves. Many students even joined in a “train,” traversing throughout the gym. Staff members, including Mr. Hilligoss, were tugged onto the dance floor on occasion.
The mission of the First State Force is to provide music with personal messages against bullying, drugs and violence. They use popular songs to teach students to respect others as well as themselves. The band began in 1988 as a concept to deliver a new, anti-drug educational program that would have an impact in Delaware. In 1990, the band performed in front of the White House for the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth Red Ribbon Campaign and in 1991 they were presented with a special commendation award for the National Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association. Each year, the band is invited to play in Washington DC at the Policeman’s Memorial, the Special Olympics Torch Run in Rehoboth Beach and many other special events.
“We want you guys to be safe and to understand how being mean hurts others,” said lead singer, Captain Alice Bailey of Delaware State Police Troop 7. “Being mean not only hurts others, but it can also get you hurt, so we want you to listen to the words of the songs and understand what they mean.”
The band performed their first concert at 9:45 am or grades four and five. At 1 pm, they performed a second concert for grades one, two and three at the school.