KETCHIKAN — Safety and Pride Patrol leaders at the Tongass School of Arts and Sciences officially suited up for the first time Monday, donning orange vests, hats and gloves with reflectors and flashing lights.
They had trained for this moment for three weeks, and they felt ready and up to the task.
Fifth-grade students August Cooper, Joleyn Cobbs, Skyla Stone and Henry Clark took their positions in the snow around the school to help usher younger schoolmates to the bus and crosswalk safely. Ashley Moulton and Bella Ortiz also are members of the safety patrol, but were unable to participate on Monday due to other activities.
As Clark and Stone took their positions on the sidewalk to ward off bike-riders, runners and snowball throwers, Cobbs and Cooper headed to a gate down the small hill to help usher the younger kids to the bus.
Each student had a two-way radio in hand, and frequently checked in with school administrator and program adviser Cindy Moody.
“They are so excited for this,” she laughed. “They are on the radios all the time.”
Moody and special education paraprofessional Adrienne Nappier are heading up the new program, which started this week with funding from the school district’s wellness program and a donation from Vigor Alaska.
Moody said the group consists of fifth grade students who expressed interest in joining the program. Each student received signatures from their teacher and parents, and then received training on safety measures and procedures.
“We got vests, lights, reflectors and signs for them so they are visible to people and traffic,” Moody said.
She emphasized that the students are not crossing guards, and will not be going out into the street.
Nappier said the walk to the bus stop is not unsafe, but having the older students actively reminding younger students to use their “hallway walk” and lifelong guidelines — such as active listening, no put-downs and personal best — will help keep the young kids on task and doing the right thing.
“It’s a program to teach responsibility, sportsmanship and leadership, and it’s a program they can grow from,” Nappier said. “And it will help outside of the building, and in the community because they know right from wrong, and what’s the right thing to do.”
Clark took his role in stride as he asked a younger student not to throw snowballs while walking with another student down the sidewalk.
“It’s fun to do it,” Clark said. “I’m excited. We’ve been talking about it for a couple weeks and today is the day.”
Cobbs said she was excited to be in the program because this is her first year at TSAS, and she thought participating would help her get to know people.
“I thought it would be really fun to help little kids if they needed help,” Cobbs said.
Nappier said they hope to take the students to visit the fire department and police station to learn more about safety and what to do in an emergency. They are also planning trips to other schools in the district to talk about starting a safety patrol program.
“Being a safety patrol kid is like being a leader of the school,” Nappier said. “It’s teaching our children to go home and help out somebody else who might not be doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”