The 31st annual “Say No to Drugs” march on Friday afternoon was led by Riverhead police officer Byron Perez, the honored guest and keynote speaker. Mr. Perez is the first full-time Hispanic, bilingual police officer in Riverhead. He’s a 2003 Riverhead High School graduate and son of Guatemalan immigrants.
In 2015, he became a volunteer for the Riverhead Community Awareness Program’s Pulaski Street Elementary School program, where he teaches in Spanish the monthly “life skills” lessons to fifth and sixth grade students who are new to the country.
“Officer Perez has helped us address a major barrier by allowing us to provide our program to all of Riverhead’s students,” said Felicia Scocozza, CAP’s executive director. “Children who suddenly find themselves in a new country and a very different culture are at increased risk for anxiety, depression and substance abuse. The CAP Life Skills program provides them with the tools and resources to better cope with these significant changes.”
Following the march, a brief ceremony took place on the steps of Pulaski Street School. Mr. Perez addressed the students and community along with State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) and the Riverhead Town Board members. After the ceremony, the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge #1742 served a picnic lunch to the students.
Photo Caption: Riverhead police officer Byron Perez with some of the Pulaski Street fifth grade students before the 31st annual “Say No To Drugs March” Friday morning. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)