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Sewickley Academy Pupils Learn the Role of Secret Service

A parent and Secret Service agent spent the day with first graders, answering questions and explaining the role of the leading federal law enforcement agency.

Part of their job is to protect our nation's leaders and visiting leaders from around the world.

On Friday, pupils at Sewickley Academy’s Lower School got to meet one of the 3,000 U.S. Secret Service agents.

Joseph Mele, an academy parent, spoke to 30 first-grade students about his job and the important role the federal law enforcement agency plays when it comes to providing protection and investigating financial crimes. 

First-grade teacher Jerilyn Scott said Mele was invited as part of the unit on detectives. She said the children have been learning about crime and investigations, and Mele’s visit as a special guest was the culminating activity.

Students saw counterfeit money up close, tried on special agent equipment, participated in a mock presidential event and, as a special treat, explored an armored car outside.

Mele, 42, said he was 29 years old when he started with the Secret Service in Chicago. Two years later, he came home to Pittsburgh and has worked from this field office ever since. An agent for 13 years, he also emphasized the importance of being an upstanding citizen.

At the end of the day, Mele gave the students certificates, officially declaring them junior agents for the Secret Service.

Mele told the kids the most important lesson to take away: “In order to be a Secret Service agent, you need to be a good person and you have to make the right choices and make good decisions."

For Mele, whose two children are in fourth and sixth grades at Sewickley Academy, this was his sixth year speaking to first graders.

First grade teacher Kelly Gary said pupils learn important lessons from his visits.

“It goes with everything we’re taught about honor, respect…you never know when someone’s watching," she said.

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