HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Going back to school can be lots of fun, but going to school for the very first time can be a little overwhelming. A Dauphin County elementary school has a program to ease those fears. It involves older students looking out for the ones just getting started.
“We help get the kids on and off the bus,” 10-year-old Thalia Berrun said. She is ready for the first day of school at North Side Elementary. She has a very important job. She’s on the safety patrol.
“Their main purpose is to ensure as students arrive and exit our building they are kept safe,” principal Sarah Box said.
“I like helping out with school and stuff,” Berrun said, “and I like working with kids, so I thought this would be fun to do.”
The safety patrol has lots of jobs. One of the most important involves the school bus.
“I’m trying to watch if they’re running or walking,” Berrun said, “making sure they’re following the high-five qualities and doing what they’re supposed to.”
The high-five qualities are part of the school’s character education program. They include being safe, responsible, respectful, prepared, and kind. That’s especially important for these little guys and girls. It’s their first time riding the bus. That can be pretty scary.
“There’s nothing really to be scared of,” Berrun said. “It’s just a bus.”
But just in case, Thalia will be there to help.
“There might be some kids that are gonna cry or be scared,” Berrun said. “I’m going to try to comfort and help get them on the bus.”
The safety patrol has been part of North Side for decades. It’s made up of 21 fifth graders. Being chosen to serve is a pretty big deal.
“They want to show not only our school community but our community as a whole just how responsible they are,” Box said.
Box says the safety patrol is truly a success because the younger kids get a helping hand and the older ones get to prove they’re growing up.
“They get to see the safety patrols – who are the oldest students in the building – take on that role of mentor, and it’s something they aspire to do and want to be a part of as they get older,” said Box.
“The first time I saw, I was like that’s what I want to do when I’m in fifth grade,” Berrun said.
Kids have to apply to be part of the safety patrol. A panel of faculty members reviews their years at the school to see if they’re responsible enough to take on the role.