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South Jordan Journal

Monte Vista safety patrol becoming leaders in school community

Dec 03, 2020 02:18PM ● By Julie Slama

Two Monte Vista sixth graders, who are part of the school’s safety patrol, ensure the safe passage of students and others around the campus. (Christie Matheson/Monte Vista Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

This school year, Monte Vista’s safety patrol has undergone a new look, and it’s not just with their safety vests and badges.

Instead of rotating responsibilities throughout the sixth grade, about 40 students stepped up, volunteering for the safety patrol leadership positions, said sixth grade teacher Christie Matheson, who is overseeing the program with sixth grade teacher Ryan Behmer.

The students went through training provided by AAA and have signed contracts promising to be respectful, safe leaders. They have committed to arrive to school early and leave later than the bell hours so they can oversee the safety of their classmates, Principal Nan Ririe said.

“It has gone from where in the past, some students didn’t listen to them, to now being something where students are showing one another respect and following the safety rules,” Ririe said. 

Matheson said the 40 students were divided in half, as squads, each being advised by a teacher. Each squad is divided into two teams, led by a lieutenant, who reports to the squad captain. This way, the teachers check in with the captain to be assured everyone is there and on task.

Those student positions rotate monthly, allowing students to learn and hold leadership positions, she said.

The 20-member squads also rotate on their duties every other week. They work with about five teachers to ensure crosswalks and sidewalks as well as drop-off and pick-up lanes are safe. The safety patrol also oversees the bike lock-up area, the playground and school campus where students meet one another or like to ride their bikes on the slopy hills.

They’re also working to develop an inside plan for winter days, which may include patrolling for icy patches on sidewalks, opening doors, monitoring hallways and ensuring students head to their classrooms.

“The students are being positive about their role, wanting to help students be safe,” Matheson said. “Especially during COVID-19, this is giving them a leadership opportunity and a chance to be a role model as they interact with younger students.” 

That’s because many of the traditional opportunities, such as reading to younger children, aren’t able to happen during the pandemic. 

However, the safety patrol team is looking at other possible ways to branch out. Once they learn communication skills and how to present themselves, Matheson said she hopes the sixth-graders will talk to younger students, reminding them what they should do to remain safe.

As role models, the safety patrol is looked upon to wear masks and follow health guidelines, finding new ways to build each other up safely instead of giving high-fives, she said.

“Some students truly want to protect others and gain that level of trust and respect,” she said.

They also may look into implement games at recess, reviewing rules and safety equipment, and reaching out to those who may be needing a friend to play with, she said.

“We’re collaborating to learn how they see the school and what they want to do,” she said. “We’re building leadership, and they’re becoming role models. This is an opportunity to guide their learning and build our community.”