Students in Katie Jacobs’ fourth grade class at Franklin Elementary worked on building hydraulic powered claws in class during the month of May. This end of the year STEM project led to seeing life-sized machines up close and in person.
Two Sammamish Elementary School Students Selected for 2022 AAA School Safety Patrol Hall of Fame
In recognition of their dedication to traffic safety, community stewardship and leadership, Zach Illsley, a fifth grade student at Samantha Smith Elementary, and Alejandro Martinez Otto, a fifth grade student at Elizabeth Blackwell Elementary, were recently chosen for induction into the 2022 AAA School Safety Patrol Hall of Fame. The patrol advisors at each of these Sammamish schools bring a decade of experience in that role. With pride, both describe their patrollers as unlike any other students seen in previous squads.
At Samantha Smith Elementary, AAA School Safety Patrol advisor Virginia Romano says that in addition to working his own patrol posts every morning and most afternoons, Zach shows other patrollers how to perform their duties and notifies her of parents ignoring safe arrival/dismissal rules so she can have the principal send out a reminder email.
“He is always available and takes his responsibilities seriously to ensure that each position is covered and will be safe for all families and students,” Romano said.
This spring, Zach used his personal time to watch how administrators handle a new traffic problem where parent vehicles were stacking up, making it difficult for buses to enter the school driveway. When back on duty, Zach worked that post, used those same techniques to ease congestion and even added a headset of red lights to alert parent drivers to the new procedures.
“His extra service has made all the difference in these days of COVID-19 and unexpected absences,” Romano said.
Alejandro Otto Martinez
Over at Elizabeth Blackwell Elementary, AAA School Safety Patrol advisor, Pegeen Nelson calls Alejandro her “Chief of Staff.” Due to COVID-19, school closures the previous year, Nelson needed to reboot her school’s patrol program with a group of students that had zero prior experience. She says Alejandro quickly stepped forward to learn the rules and procedures for every patrol position and trained every member of her 65-student crew.
“Alejandro is a self-starter and does not wait to be asked,” Nelson said. “He knows every job so well, even mine. He has been known to give me a gentle reminder when I forget something,” she added.
Alejandro assumed one of the patrol’s most important roles — organizing and managing the escort of the kindergarteners from the buses to their classrooms. Alejandro trained several patrol members to be responsible for the care and safety of each young student.
“It has been truly an honor to work with this young man,” Nelson said. “I look forward to seeing what he does in the future. Whatever it is, I know he will make a fantastic leader.”
As a long-standing tradition, a panel of judges from AAA Washington, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission chooses ten patrollers to induct into the AAA Washington School Safety Patrol Hall of Fame. Nominations require input from both the patroller and their advisor, including responses to a series of essay questions. This year’s inductees represent elementary schools from rural and urban communities across the state.
AAA created the School Safety Patrol 102 years ago and partners with local agencies to bring the program to elementary schools across Washington. AAA Washington has been inducting outstanding patrollers into the local Hall of Fame for 30 years.