October 02, 2013 - The AAA School Safety Patrol awarded eleven schools, including Leonard Elementary, with $500 grants.
Front row (left to right): Andrea Henson, Katrina Scepka, Alexis Johnson,Sabrina Bucci, Christian Mendoza, Charlotte McLenaghan. Second row: Claire Hornug, Catie Parsons, Olivia Kreshock, Avery Carty, Madelyn Crosby, Zoe Haden, Natalie Shefferly, Brandon Rebtoy. Back row: Principal Paul McDevitt, Madison Pileki, Madelyne Perry, Haley Hull, Austin Boyd, Melodie Mitchell, Melissa Musgrove. Photo by Trevor Keiser. (click for larger version)
"I have to give Melissa (Musgrove) all the credit for that," said Leonard Principal Paul McDevitt. "She found the grant, she applied for the grant, she wrote the grant, she was awarded the grant and she has some great ideas on how we're going to spend that grant."
The grant was an advancement grant meaning it will be used "to further advance their existing patrol programs with an emphasis on the safety and educational benefits the program provides to students and the lifesaving contributions to the community."
"I haven't quite decided what (it will be used for), but we'll come up with something," Musgrove said. "I would like to do something with the money safety-wise and maybe bring in a speaker or do something for the school that the safeties could be part of. Not just buy belts and badges with it."
Leonard's Safety Patrol was started last year and currently has 19 students in the program. In order to be in Safety Patrol member, a student must be in the fifth grade.
"When they want to get into the safety program, they have to submit an application, which requires (to tell) if they've had to see the principal or had a detention or suspension, write a little essay (about) why they should part of this program and what they bring to the program," Musgrove noted. "Once they do that, parents have to sign it and we pick from there."
Safety Patrol meets once a month. They get their post assignment and a new "captain" is selected every month.
"It's a lot more than just standing out there telling kids to walk," Musgrove said.
"They really help us with the buses at the end of the day, they make sure all the bathrooms are checked and all the kids are out of the school before the buses roll away and they make sure the youngest kids get on the right buses," he added. "It's safety, but they also do a lot more as far as helping us at the beginning of the day and the end of the day with the mass entrance and exit."
Having Safety Patrol members at the entrance of the school greeting kids, parents and teachers as they come in has been a positive experience, Musgrove said.
"I think that's important to try and make people (feel) more welcome as they come into school everyday and start the day out happy," she added.
McDevitt said not only has the program helped the students embrace leadership, but it's helped him in dealing with students as well.
"They're still kids, they're still going to make mistakes and when I'd have talk to them, I would have to remind them they are in a leadership position and can't act that way anymore because the little kids look up to them. What kind of example are they showing," McDevitt said. "I let them know I have a higher standard of behavior (for them) than I do for all the other students and that really helped them understand what leadership means."
While Safety Patrol is for fifth-graders, younger students do get a chance to be a patrol officer if they are picked as "Safety for the Day," explained Musgrove. Safety Patrol members hand out tickets to students who are seen doing good deeds and the right thing. At an assembly, those tickets are placed in a jar and a Safety Patrol Officer draws a name and recognizes that kid in front of the whole school.
"It's a win-win because safeties have to speak in public and stand up there and mentor the (younger) children as they come up," she said. "The kids really look up to them and they want to wear those belts."
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.