Current ninth and tenth graders at Old Rochester Regional High School will be the first to experience the school’s implementation of the R.A.D. program, a self defense course that will begin the week after the November Thanksgiving break.
The R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) Systems of Self Defense offer different approaches for females and males, so both sexes at ORR will access the program through respective classes dedicated to the different forms of self-defense particular to each gender.
Quoting Susan B. Anthony, Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos, a strong advocate of the program and the one who applied for the first grant to fund it at ORR said, “A woman must not depend on the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself.”
R.A.D. was founded by Lawrence Nadeau, said Frangos, “And he thought that if his grandma could do it, he would include it in the program.”
Frangos touted the program’s support by providing people with realistic self-defense tactics and techniques, an awareness of the body, “…as well as how to work with one’s adrenaline, employing techniques that can prevent harm and irreparable damage to one’s psychology.”
Frangos said her own son took the course before heading to college, “and he learned important de-escalation techniques, as well as physical defense,” she said.
Offering R.A.D. to the students, said Frangos, is another way the school district can prepare students along the lines of career and college readiness beyond academics.
Citing statistics from the Department of Justice and the FBI, one in three women will be sexually abused in her life; one in four will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. A sexual assault occurs every two minutes in the United States, said Frangos.
Physical education teachers Nancy Cowen and Christopher Cabe gave the Old Rochester Regional School Committee a comprehensive overview of the new program on October 25 before Frangos asked the School Committee to adopt the curriculum.
R.A.D., said Cabe, is the largest most nationally recognized self-defense program in the country, providing instruction in prevention and risk reduction, with strategies and realistic and dynamic hands on training.
“This program will empower students and give them the skills necessary to defend themselves while at college or in situations where they may be vulnerable,” Cabe said.
The teachers both received 30-plus hours of training, along with sensitivity training when it comes to teaching the class to students who may already have been affected by violence.
“What they taught us was invaluable,” said Cabe. “It hits home when they put you through that simulation…”
The school, in addition to training, received one R.A.D. padded aggressor suit, ten student protection suits, and pads of different sizes to take the blows of the practice punches and kicks.
“Because we want to see that aggressive fostering,” said Cowen. “We want to see them punch as hard as they can.
The Mattapoisett Police Department attempted to institute the program last year, and they donated some additional items such as extra pads and four more student suits. The Rochester Police Department has also pledged volunteers they have trained in R.A.D.
Once the program is piloted, the school will attempt to expand the training to include refresher courses for juniors and seniors before the graduate, possibly even offering it as an elective.
Cowen and Cabe gave a little demonstration of some of the moves for the School Committee and described some of the scenarios for which students are prepared.
“It’s very beneficial to all the students out there,” said Cabe. “[It’s a] tremendous program.”
Student Jo Caynon told the committee that although she has extensive experience in martial arts, this program has still helped prepare her for possible future violent encounters.
“What R.A.D. does is get you the feeling of punching someone,” Caynon said. “You don’t know how hard you’re going to have to punch or kick to hurt somebody or to get away.”
School Committee member Joe Pires said, “I completely applaud it and I’m a major advocate of it.”
The School Committee approved the implementation of the program, but will review the program’s progress during its June meeting and then vote on whether to permanently adopt the curriculum.
The next meeting of the Old Rochester Regional School Committee is scheduled for December 6 at 6:30 pm in the ORRJHS media room.
Old Rochester Regional School Committee
By Jean Perry