HAMPSTEAD — For the 16th year, Hampstead Middle School seventh-grade students and their parents will attend the school's annual "Project Respect" theme day on April 20.

The event will be held at the Calvary School in Derry. Project Respect is essentially a "prevention education" approach to addressing a variety of issues, problems and challenges facing families today. The program will offer a choice of workshops designed both to educate participants and to stimulate discussion among them.

"The primary source of funding for this event comes from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Federal Grant, but many other organizations make generous donations that enable us to conduct a very effective program," said Hampstead Middle School guidance counselor Pat Jacobellis.

Because the workshops take place in an off-campus, neutral environment, both students and their parents tend to be very active participants. The seventh grade total enrollment of 140 students, as well as seventh-graders from Hampstead Academy, will attend sessions with their parents. Some of the sessions are specifically designed for students only, some are for parents only, and some are for both parents and students together.

The program includes interactive, theatrical and educational presentations by a variety of guest speakers. Some of the topics covered include: self-esteem and peer pressure, the impact of media on self-image, relationships and conflict resolution, Internet safety, drugs and alcohol, cyber-bullying and HIV/AIDS.

Students and their parents will pre-select the topics of interest to them, which is yet another reason why the workshops often prove to be both informative and stimulating. "Project Respect" is based on "Project Safeguard," a program developed in 1988 by Warren Berry, a sixth-grade science teacher at the Mastricola Middle School in Merrimack.

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