One sure way to encourage elementary students to listen is by sending the message with those they consider role models, such as high school students.

As part of a program called Athletes Helping Athletes, Locust Valley High School athletes recently visited students at Bayville Intermediate School to talk to them about making smart decisions.

“Younger students look up to the high school athletes, so it makes sense to have them setting a good example,” explained Mark J. Dantuono, Director of Physical Education, Health, and Athletics. “The fifth graders will be entering middle school in the fall and it is a perfect time to reinforce the importance of good decision-making.”

Students are reminded by the high school mentors that making the wrong decisions can destroy their dreams of being an athlete. Several teenagers spoke to an entire class at once and then also broke into smaller groups, in which fifth graders had the opportunity to ask individual questions.

Bayville Elementary School Principal Scott McElhiney said that Athletes Helping Athletes reinforces the lessons being taught throughout the year. “We have many programs that support the message that children need to make the right choices,” he said. “This is one way for young students to see that their role models actually adhere to these messages.”