Becoming a member of the Safety Patrol at Poulsbo Elementary is often a youngster’s first foray into what it is like to have a full-time job.
Students interested in joining the Safety Patrol must be 5th-graders and apply for the job with their school’s Safety Patrol advisor. For Poulsbo Elementary, that would be Terri Marshall.
“They go through an application process and then we train them in each station where they earn points and then based on how many points they earn, we interview them and then they are sworn in,” Marshall said.
Members of the Safety Patrol are sworn in by a local police officer and pledge to uphold the responsibilities of their position.
“I promise to do my best to report for duty on time. Perform my duties faithfully. Strive to prevent traffic accidents and always set a good example. Obey my teachers and officers of the patrol. Report dangerous student practices and strive to earn the respect of my fellow students,” reads the pledge.
School Safety Patrol programs have been around since the 1920s and are frequently sponsored by the American Automobile Association (AAA).
“When we do the interview process, we get a lot of kids that say ‘oh my grandpa or my mom or my brother was in Safety Patrol and that’s why I want to do it,” Marshall said.
In order to be on the Safety Patrol, students must demonstrate good leadership abilities, be responsible and have a good attendance record.
The safety patrol is made up of a total of 24 students, with 12 students monitoring stations each week.
“They make sure that students are crossing crosswalks safely, they greet people in the morning with the principal, Mr. Crandall, make sure the classrooms are clear at the end of the day, keep kids off the playground when they shouldn’t be and overall keep an eye out for suspicious activity too,” Marshall said.
The students have a few tools and items for their trade, such as bright yellow vests, traffic flags and walkie-talkies to communicate with each other while on duty.
Students on safety patrol can also be nominated for awards each year and get the opportunity to travel to Seattle for a Mariners game.
Over the years a total of eight students from Poulsbo Elementary have been nominated for awards, with four of them receiving the awards in recent years.
For 12 years, Marshall has led Poulsbo Elementary School’s Safety Patrol and in 2018 she was recognized by AAA Washington as the School Safety Advisor of the Year.
“They called me and I thought that one of our kids had won because they take the kids to a Mariners game and give them awards. They were like ‘no, Ms. Marshall, it’s you. You won,’” Marshall said.