School safety is serious business.
That fact is well understood by the members of the Gause Elementary School safety patrol, who together pledged their commitment to help keep their classmates safe during a recent ceremony.
It came at the conclusion of their job training, which includes a week of observing current patrol members, watching a video and being supervised for two days of on-the-job training.
Additionally, volunteers meet monthly for safety lessons and to listen to guest speakers.
Before students are considered for the position, they must write a paragraph about why they should be chosen for the job.
The safety patrol program at Gause was started 10 years ago due to the need for more presence at the cross walk in front of school and a way to provide leadership training for students.
Marvina Bugajski, first-grade teacher, is the program supervisor.
“I enjoy that I get the opportunity to work with the leaders of our school,” she said. “These students are hard workers and strive to do their best to provide safety outside at the crosswalk. Every day they make me proud.
She continued, “The biggest benefit to the students who participate is that they learn the importance of leadership, and how to communicate effectively with the students and parents that they cross.”
“We found that we needed more opportunities for students to take on leadership roles,” said Principal Rex Larson. “Some kids are natural leaders, but others need to be shown how and be given help to develop these skills. Marvina volunteered to do this program and it has been great.”
There are approximately 40 fourth- and fifth-grade students involved in the safety patrol.
“Involvement gives them the chance to practice responsibility, self-discipline, and develop a work ethic,” said Larson. “We have found that safety patrol kids tend to be better students and we correlate that to their responsibility to be a good student and a good citizen.
“It is an added bonus to the program that we had not necessarily planned on.”
Fourth-grader Natali Morris enjoys helping to keep her classmates safe.
“If there was no crossing guard and a kid is not being parented, it could be dangerous and they could get hurt by a car,” she said.
Her mom, Lyndsey Morris, noted that her daughter is a natural leader.
“This is giving her a chance for more responsibility and to take her leadership skills to the next level,” she said. “She is very aware of safety and whether people are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Natali was looking forward to her fourth-grade year because she would have the opportunity to be on the safety patrol.”
Each student who works on patrol receives a bright orange Gause patrol T-shirt from the Boosters Club and an end-of-the-year field trip to Oaks Amusement Park in Portland.
There, they join safety patrol student volunteers from throughout Clark County.
“The kids really look forward to that trip,” said Bugajski. “It is a great reward.”
Parents also play a big role in the success of the program, according to Larson.
“Several students need to be dropped off early or picked up late to be able to work their shift,” he said. “The parents are helpful and supportive.”
At the short ceremony in front of their parents and siblings, students pledged to report for duty on time, perform duties faithfully, strive to prevent accidents, obey teachers and patrol officers, report dangerous behavior, and earn the respect of fellow students.
After the pledge, Larson told the group how much he admires their efforts.
“I appreciate that you take the job seriously,” he said. “It is the most serious volunteer job at our school.
“People depend on you. You are a leader in the school. Little kids will be looking up to you and they will want to be like you when they are older.”