6th – 8th grade students from St. Veronica’s Catholic School and Philadelphia Police Officers from the 25th police district marched side-by-side in the 248th annual Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade as part of the inaugural Police Youth Alliance (PYA) Drumline Corps. Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Joe Sullivan led the drumline with Mark O’Connor, co-owner of the Irish Pub.
Officer Derrick Suragh, or Officer “D”, as the students affectionately call him, has been teaching the 17 school-children how to play the drums since September, as part of the Police Youth Alliance – a program founded as an education initiative by the Tour de Shore Foundation back in 2015. From their very first lesson to their big debut in the parade, these students have come a long way and have learned a lot in the process!
Both Sullivan and O’Conner spearheaded the PYA as board members of the Tour de Shore Children’s Foundation. The program was designed to foster positive interactions between kids in disadvantaged neighborhoods and the police patrolling the area. The program includes over 20 different chess, reading and art programs and is now in over 11 different Independence Mission Schools, as well as one Philadelphia Public School.