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 Monarch School Junior Agents Get Letter and Signed Poster from FBI Director

Students at Monarch School got a special treat Monday as part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Junior Special Agent program—a visit from a high-ranking special agent and a one-of-a-kind poster signed by FBI Director James Comey.

Comey also wrote the students a letter, commending them for their work throughout the program to create posters based on the eight core values of the FBI.

“To thank the students for their hard work, I’m enclosing one of the new posters listing the FBI core values,” he said in the letter.

The poster and letter were presented to the students by Eric S. Birnbaum, special agent in charge of the San Diego field office. Birnbaum told the students about how he first became interested in working for the FBI as a child who loved detective shows.

“I think there’s opportunities for you with the FBI too,” he told them.

The FBI director learned about the posters through the local field office, where there were copies displayed in the break room. The students created two copies of each poster: one to keep at the school and another to send to the FBI office.

Monarch School is one of the San Diego County Office of Education's Juvenile Court and Community Schools and serves children in kindergarten through high school who have been affected by homelessness.

It was the first school in San Diego County to participate in the Junior Special Agent program, which started with 5th-graders there last year. As junior special agents, the students get weekly lessons for nearly three months about different aspects of the FBI, including forensics, evidence gathering, interviewing, firearm safety, cyber security, and physical fitness. They also work on skills such as listening, problem solving, and conflict resolution.

“It’s all about getting them to make smart decisions all throughout their lives,” said Cheryl Dorenbush, FBI community outreach specialist.

The Junior Special Agents program is especially powerful for students who may have had negative experiences with law-enforcement officers, because it gives them a chance to connect with real agents and learn more about their work, said Kristin Dragomire, whose 5th-grade class is participating in the program.

“This is such an awesome opportunity to build a relationship with law enforcement,” she said. “We are very, very fortunate.”