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Students Get Extra Helping Hand

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A guy can benefit from an encouraging hug now and then.
FAYETTEVILLE — For many children, family problems havea way of showing up in the classroom. But youngsters in Fayetteville aregetting extra attention from a special source -- police officers.

As fourth-grader Aaron Miller will tell you candidly, as he shapes clayinto a classroom project, last year he wasn't doing so well. He haddiscipline problems and was suspended several times.

Enter Investigator Hubert Peterkin. He is one of several officers whohelp give special attention and help to 56 children inthe Fayetteville area.

The Family Intervention Team gives its young charges encouragement,smiles -- and sometimes hugs. Knowing that an officer -- who is now afriend -- will come by the classroom weekly to be a pal, helps studentslike Aaron stay on course.

Peterkin says what Aaron needed was someone outside the family tobelieve in him. As a positive role model, Peterkin can be counted on whenAaron feels he needs someone to talk to.

Aaron Miller details the problems he's had.

Last year, says his teacher, Alethia Weston, Aaron usually did notcomplete his homework or respond in class. She has witnessed a dramaticchange in his initiative and in the results.

The Fayetteville police department would like to see the programexpand. They are seeking a grant to do just that so more Aarons can bloomunder some special attention.