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A Natural High for Students

Posted on Thu, Jun 18, 2009

Scituate Mariner on WickedLocal.com  June 18, 2009 by Brian P. Nanos

PHOTO: Wicked Local Staff Photo by Chris Bernstein

Scituate Police DARE Officer DomShoreline Aviation FBO Kids Flying D'Arcangelo is ready for takeoff at Marshfield Municipal Airport with Devin Stewart of Wompatuck Elementary School and Leah Doherty of Hatherly Elementary School.

Scituate — According to Scituate Police DARE Officer Dom D'Arcangelo, people with his job often use their talents, skills and hobbies to show students ways to get a high without the use of drugs and alcohol.

“You do what your talents allow you to get to the kids,” he said. “If you like fishing, you do a fishing club.”

D’Arcangelo picked up a hobby 17 years ago that has allowed him to literally get his message across — he flies planes.

The hobby was a direct result of his work in Scituate schools, D’Arcangelo said. He was giving a group of students a lesson about achieving their goals when a girl in the class raised her hand and asked him if there was anything he wanted to achieve.

D’Arcangelo responded that he would like to get a pilot’s license.

“She goes, ‘What’s your excuse?’” he said.

Each year, D’Arcangelo takes students from each of Scituate’s four elementary schools for an airplane ride from Marshfield Municipal Airport, which they earn by having an essay chosen to be read at DARE graduation. The essays are chosen, D’Arcangelo said, “not so much as the winner as the representative of the class.”

On June 11, D’Arcangelo took three groups of Scituate students up in the plane. He took more students on June 16, and said the flights would continue until each of the winning students had gone.

When Jenkins Elementary School students Ben McClary, Maria D’Ambrosia and Sarah Putnam took the flight June 11, they all said the enjoyed the trip over the coast of Scituate.

“It was fun,” Ben said. “It was cool to see images from far above. It’s like, ‘That’s my house.’”

“I personally never realized how many trees there are (in Scituate),” Sarah said.

Ben, who was flying in the front seat with D’Arcangelo, even got a chance to fly the plane, something he first attempted as a joke.

“He put his hands out (to take control). He said, ‘Never in 1,000 years,’” D’Arcangelo said. “I said, ‘No, it’s your turn.”

D’Arcangelo said Ben did “a nice job” with the plane, although Ben described it differently.

“I actually got to fly the plane a little bit,” he said, before making a face to approximate Maria and

Sarah being scared stiff. “They were like this in the back seat”

After their flight with D’Arcangelo, Jenkins students Ani Koziel and P.J. Le Blanc both said they had fun.

“At first it was a little bumpy,” Ani said. “I saw our street.”

“You never realize exactly what stuff is going to look like,” P.J. added.

D’Arcangelo said that the essay contest and the plane flights help the students build confidence — “a fundamental part of DARE,” he said.

D’Arcangelo added that the students are often surprised by the follow-through on a promise.

Early in the year, he offers the plane ride, but some students don’t believe it at the end of the year when they are actually taking off, he said.

“It’s really says that you can have so much fun in life without substances,” he said. “This costs the same (as a drug addiction), so why not do this stuff?”

The students aren’t the only ones who enjoy the flights over Scituate. Although he said he has given up on his one-time goal of becoming a “traditional cop,” D’Arcangelo said he finds his job more than rewarding.

“When I go in in September and I get a class full of kids, it’s a performance,” he said. “It’s so much fun. That’s what I said to one of the kids, ‘ I get paid for this.’”

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