VENTNOR – Eighth graders at the Ventnor Educational Community Complex enjoyed a day at the beach Wednesday, June 6 courtesy of the Ventnor City Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 97.
Members of the Class of 2018 who had good grades and no behavioral issues during the school year were invited to the PBA’s annual barbeque on the beach behind the Ventnor Library. That amounted to almost all of the 60 or so students in the eighth grade, history teacher Debbie Duff said.
She said the PBA paid for all the food. Several off-duty police officers volunteered to cook up the food, which was quickly devoured by the hungry teens.
It’s a tradition that has lasted more than 50 years, according to Police Chief Doug Biagi, who said he attended the barbeque when he was in eighth grade.
“Way back when, the PBA wanted to provide a gift to the graduating eighth graders and they started this barbeque, and we’ve been doing it ever since,” Biagi said. “It’s a nice way to bridge the gap between police and the teens, who we sometimes never see again because they go off to high schools in other towns. We’re lucky that we very seldom see behavioral issues from the kids who live in Ventnor.”
Eighth grader Julia Herrera said she enjoyed VECC’s day off at the beach.
“I had fun. I went into the water, but it was a little cold,” she said.
A few students frolicked in the surf while others played football on the beach. Some just took the opportunity to get some sun, but all appreciated what the PBA did to celebrate the end of the school year.
So did Board of Education President James Pacanowski, who in his role as board president approved funding for the bus to get them there.
“This is a nice treat for the kids who work so hard during the school year,” he said as he watched his eighth-grade daughter Molly having fun with her friends in the sand.
“Next week is their class trip to Great Adventure and after that, it’s graduation.”