Students at Ponoka Elementary School (PES) are ready to roll out following their AMA School Safety Patrol training.
Twenty-three Grade 6 students volunteered for the program and were trained Jan. 16 by Darcy Baron, regional co-ordinator of the AMA School Safety Patrol, who was contacted by a member of the PES parent council with a request to conduct the training.
“It came to my attention that there are a lot of needs here at the school and I think it’s going to be ongoing because of the transitioning from one school to another.”
Due to an increase in the number of students at PES with the addition of Grade 6 to the school, there has been an issue of safety when parents drop off and pick up their children. Members of the parent council sent complaints to the RCMP and contacted Baron for assistance.
Baron feels the program is a benefit to students who rely on crosswalks to get to school. One connects to the brick building and another to the pink building and while the former has a crosswalk sign, the latter does not.
The goal is to continue using the program, said Baron, but needs must be re-evaluated when students move into the Diamond Willow Middle School building in the fall. She said patrollers’ job is to monitor the road and motorists and help students cross when it is safe.
“We’re actually piloting a new procedure in Ponoka. It’s still called Point, Pause and Proceed, which it always has been, but we’re reducing the steps and we’re changing things to make it a little more smooth flowing,” explained Baron.
She feels the new program is easier to remember and safer. Patrollers will point to pedestrians until it is time to cross, their left arm will hold the stop sign to make motorists aware that someone needs to cross and when a vehicle stops, students can cross.
“Patrollers never make the assumption that the drivers are going to stop. They have to follow protocol and procedure and make sure drivers come to a full stop,” she added.
“I think it’s very effective in many schools,” said Baron.
Vice-principal Nicole Rawlinson is excited to see strong leadership from students. She feels they want to show support for their school and this is one way to do that. There is no cost to PES as AMA pays for the program and provides training, safety vests, stop signs and other materials. She expects to begin by the end of January once scheduling and final training is complete.
“It will be 15 minutes before school and 15 minutes after school,” explained Rawlinson.
To ensure the program does well, principal Lois Spate and Rawlinson will work with students. Rawlinson plans to bring Grade 4 students to a training session in the spring to prepare them for the next school year.
At the end of May AMA hosts a day out for patrollers in the region to show their appreciation of the extra work students make. They will go swimming and safety personnel and RCMP members will provide a barbecue to students.
Patrollers will monitor both crosswalks in teams of two every morning and afternoon.
AMA’s School Safety Patrol program is in its 76th year.