As Creekside Elementary students arrive at school each day, chances are that they’ll be greeted by one of the members of the school’s Safety Patrol. New this school year, the Otter Safety Patrol is made up of volunteer students, led by teacher Christa Eadson.
After releasing a video explaining the volunteer position and calling for interested fourth and fifth grade students to apply, Eadson ended up with a large student group – nearly 50 students are part of the Creekside Safety Patrol. Eadson took a safety course offered by the AAA, and trained the students in how to help others while also staying safe themselves. She divided the group into “squads,” which serve once per month for a week at a time. Parents and guardians help the students get to school early or pick them up after regular dismissal time so that they can help.
“I love giving kids an opportunity to serve,” Eadson said. “They were just dying to do it.” She added that the Safety Patrol members take their volunteer obligation very seriously. “They all want to be here.”
On a recent sunny morning, one of the squads gathered before school arrival time to prepare for their shift. They signed in, donned safety vests and discussed who would work in which area. The squad leader spent time double-checking whether all the squad members were present, and ensuring that each area would have enough Safety Patrol members.
During arrival and dismissal, Safety Patrol members help in the parent/guardian drop-off and pick-up area, and also in the bus lane. They do everything from opening car doors to helping students who fall down to assisting peers who have lost items. Working with staff members, Safety Patrol team members also use a brightly colored flag to help make certain that drivers see any pedestrians at the crosswalk in the parking lot.
Principal Amy Allison said that she is grateful for Eadson’s leadership and the students’ willingness to serve. “We didn’t have a Safety Patrol last year,” Allison said. “It’s been really neat. The kids have been so responsible with it. … They are so polite!”
On one morning, a student was struggling with saying goodbye to a family member during drop off, and a Safety Patrol member helped open the student’s door, greeted them and eased the transition to school that day, Allison said. “I told that fourth grade student: ‘You didn’t know this at the time, but when you introduced yourself, you really made a difference.’”
Partway through the school year at a Safety Patrol meeting, Eadson asked the students what they thought about their volunteer work so far.
“One student said, ‘I just love helping,’” she recalled. “Another said ‘I’m in fifth grade. This is my last year and I want to help out.’”
As a group, the students brainstormed a list of reasons they enjoy Safety Patrol, which included helping fellow students get to the bus, make it to class, tie their shoes, find the nurse, get to the office and put on jackets. It’s also fun to be energetic and give compliments and high-fives to other students, they noted.
And, they said, it has been a great chance to make new friends and earn respect from their peers and families.
Other Safety Patrol members shared why they wanted to be part of this group:
Saina K.: “I like helping out our school, because they’ve been so nice to me ever since I first started.”
A.J. N. (squad leader): “I like the leadership part of it, and how we get to talk to everybody at Creekside.”
Julia T.: “I like that we can come out here and help people stay safe.”
Above: Members of one squad of the Creekside Safety Patrol pause for a photo after their morning shift. Below, a Safety Patrol team member greets students arriving at the parent drop-off lane before school.