PARKERSBURG – It’s not just teachers and crossing guards who make sure Emerson Elementary students get in and out of school safely.
About 20 fourth and fifth graders, as well as a few third graders, have been trained as part of the school’s security patrol team, put in place this year by Principal Tabatha Efaw.
They escort students on school buses, escort them to the school building, help children in the disembarkation loop, act as wardens and guide students crossing 36th Street with the help of the crossing guard.
“It’s really impressive to see how we have a group of young people, they are on time, every time, and if they can’t come they call and let us know” said Efaw. “The level of discipline and the level of confidence and leadership that I have seen them develop is impressive.
Efaw said that a school district she worked in in Virginia had a similar program and that she wanted to start one in Emerson to help promote more student leadership. She showed the children a training video produced by AAA and invited those interested to apply.
“Everyone who applied, in fact, we were able to find positions for” said Efaw.
The team is led by a captain, fifth-grader Maddi Amos, who works with Efaw to lead the student safety patrollers and monitor their activities. The captain reports any problems to the principal, who can follow up with individual students.
Lillian Phillips, a fifth-grader, said she accompanied the students to their buses and reminded them to walk instead of running, put on masks and follow the marked safety path.
“I have to tell them (to) stay in the yellow line”, she said.
Fifth-grader Anna Flanagan usually does the bus service, but also replaces Amos when needed.
“I love helping children and thought it would be fun to help every day” she said.
The most surprising aspect of the job, Flanagan said, was when a student didn’t respond positively after calling him for running.
“When I told him not to do this, he rolled his eyes” she said.
Efaw said that although it does happen occasionally, most students are receptive to the program and she is happy that there are peers who exhibit good behavior.
The Security Patrol Team was formed with the help of AAA Security Advisor JJ Miller. Millions of students have served in the AAA security patrol program since 1920, Efaw said.
Efaw said the school is planning other leadership initiatives, including a student council led by Deputy Principal Adam Shaffer and Peer Mediation and K-Kids led by Deputy Principal Kristen Cale.