More than a century running, the AAA School Safety Patrol program has taught students the importance of not only crossing the street carefully, but a responsibility of personal leadership in safety. For the first time, Killdeer Public School is adopting this program into its academic school year with its third grade class.

Approximately 18 third graders are enrolled in Killdeer Elementary AAA Safety Patrol for the 2021-2022 school year, a program launched by Vicki Carney, a special education teacher strategist, and Elementary Principal Andrew Cook. Carney noted that she is delighted to have young students ready to learn the ins and outs of safety while also inspiring fellow students.

The Killdeer Elementary AAA Safety Patrol class is pictured along with its advisors. The class has about 18 third grade students enrolled for the 2021-2022 school year. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
The Killdeer Elementary AAA Safety Patrol class is pictured along with its advisors. The class has about 18 third grade students enrolled for the 2021-2022 school year. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

“The safety patrol program is a wonderful peer mentoring program that has helped students become positive role models for their younger peers,” Carney said. “Through the patrol program, students learn valuable leadership skills, teamwork, pride and have the chance to make a difference in another student’s life.”

Safety Patrol Officer of the Month and third grader Eliza Buehner, right, stands with her safety advisor Laura Sadowsky, who is a paraprofessional at Killdeer Public School and helps with the Killdeer Elementary AAA Safety Patrol program. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Safety Patrol Officer of the Month and third grader Eliza Buehner, right, stands with her safety advisor Laura Sadowsky, who is a paraprofessional at Killdeer Public School and helps with the Killdeer Elementary AAA Safety Patrol program. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

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In order for students to be a part of this program, they must have passing grades and no behavior or principal referrals. Carney and the elementary paraprofessionals have spent the first beginning weeks of the school year training students on safety protocols as well as providing consistent support for patrollers.

Student patrollers help with K-2 recess duty, before and after school duty and assisting Laura Sadowsky — the crossing guard and a paraprofessional at Killdeer Public School.

“I have seen this program build stronger relationships with students and teachers alike,” Carney said, who introduced this program at Belfield Public School that went on to produce the AAA Patroller of the Year for the state of North Dakota. “... This was a very exciting and rewarding experience for our patrollers and teachers.”

Wearing an ‘Lectric Lime belt pinned with her badge and two neon batons, Safety Patrol Officer of the Month Eliza Buehner awaits to direct students in a crosswalk outside Killdeer Public School. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Wearing an ‘Lectric Lime belt pinned with her badge and two neon batons, Safety Patrol Officer of the Month Eliza Buehner awaits to direct students in a crosswalk outside Killdeer Public School. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Third grader Ellie Buckman, left, skips to the other side of the road as Safety Patrol Officer of the Month Eliza Buehner makes sure she gets across safely during a break Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, at Killdeer Public School. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Third grader Ellie Buckman, left, skips to the other side of the road as Safety Patrol Officer of the Month Eliza Buehner makes sure she gets across safely during a break Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, at Killdeer Public School. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Wearing an ‘Lectric Lime belt pinned with her badge, third grader Eliza Buehner has made her way up to Safety Patrol Officer of the Month and noted that it’s an accomplishment that takes discipline and obedience.

“I get straight A’s. I’ve never gone to the principal’s (office),” Buehner said, as she motioned to her fellow students with two neon batons to safely cross the street outside the school building.

Gene LaDoucer, director of Public Affairs of the AAA Auto Club Group in Fargo, works closely with Carney to ensure that she has the support needed to run the program. The insurance agency has also donated the safety gear students wear while they are out on duty each year, Carney added.

Patrollers are issued a belt or best and a badge to wear while on duty. The badge indicates the level of office such as patroller, captain, lieutenant or sergeant.

According to an AAA statement, the School Safety Patrol Program has contributed to the steady decline of student pedestrian deaths — ages 5 to 14 — in the United States by a 24% decrease since 2010.

Student patrollers are responsible for directing children, not traffic. Though the role of the program is to teach students to direct their peers in safely interacting with school traffic, it also requires knowledge on street crossing, bus and car drop-offs and safety monitoring, AAA documents state.

Safety Patrol Officer of the Month and third grader Eliza Buehner, center, uses her neon batons to stop children from crossing a street outside Killdeer Public School Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Safety Patrol Officer of the Month and third grader Eliza Buehner, center, uses her neon batons to stop children from crossing a street outside Killdeer Public School Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Safety Patrol Officer of the Month Eliza Buehner waves her neon batons to halt student traffic from crossing the street during a break Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, at Killdeer Public School. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Safety Patrol Officer of the Month Eliza Buehner waves her neon batons to halt student traffic from crossing the street during a break Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, at Killdeer Public School. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Students cross the road at Killdeer Public School Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, as safety patrol advisors observe carefully. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Students cross the road at Killdeer Public School Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, as safety patrol advisors observe carefully. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Back in 1920, the idea of school boy patrols began with Charles M. Haynes, then president of the Chicago Motor Club. After witnessing several children at a school crossing get killed by a speeding car, Hayes was motivated to make a change and is credited for building the infrastructure and providing the resources so other AAA clubs across the United States could protect students walking to and from school.

By the 1930s, AAA, the National Congress of Parents and Teachers and the National Safety Council began collaborating on Standard Rules for the Operation of School Boy Patrols that would eventually become revised guidelines for AAA School Safety Patrols.

The patrol will have fundraisers throughout the 2021-2022 school year to help purchase items for Killdeer Public School as well as finding ways to give back to the community.

“It is just a good feeling when you can give back to the community in which the students live. The Killdeer Elementary AAA Safety Patrol is excited and ready to have a safe and wonderful school year,” Carney said.