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Rocky Hill will ‘definitely’ have safety program

Cory Smith, Rocky Hill Elementary School principal, wants to reassure parents that the school will have a safety program this year.

“We were never actually going to not have a safety program; it just wasn’t going to be called safety, and I think that’s where some of the misunderstanding came from,” Smith said. “We are definitely going to have a safety program this year in the sense that there will be a Washington D-C trip and things like that, that are traditionally associated with Rocky Hill safety.”

A task force made up of both school faculty and PTO parent representatives has met “to work out the details of what the program is going to look like this year,” he said.

On the task force, Smith added, “was two teachers [Karen Priode and Evelyn Stuart], myself, my assistant principal [Sheila Earl], administrators from downtown [Fred Nidiffer and Barbra Clark] and then the P-T-O president [Amy Faye Chandler] and two other P-T-O representatives [Kelly Robison and Ronald Peabody].

“We sat down with P-T-O, teachers, everybody – people from downtown to make sure we were following policy and procedures of Knox County, teachers to make sure this was something that they found viable here at the school, and also the parents had some input.”

The group has agreed to a few changes to the program.

“The parameters of the program, the things that we have asked the kids to do, there’s been a few things that have been added to that. The parameters that [students] are selected and those sorts of things have changed,” the principal said.

Details about the program were released during the school’s PTO meeting Tuesday, Aug. 28.

As far as what prompted the change, Smith said, “At the end of last year I had several teachers come to me and ask me to end the program due to issues with the program. We sat down and talked about it. I went over it with my supervisors, and everybody was kind of on the same sheet of music as far as we’re going to end the safety program in the sense of it being called Safety Patrol associated with AAA.

“My assistant principal and I talked over the details and decided we were going to have something. We hadn’t really narrowed down what it was, but we were going to try to base it on the Character Counts traits. We’d still have the leadership and responsibility, have them deal with the kids in the hallway, help mentor the younger kids, that type of thing,” he added.

“Parents got upset about not having Safety Patrol. I admit I did not do a great job of communicating; being in Alaska, it was a bit difficult for me to get that information out,” he said. “I think it was the P-T-O president e-mailed me the charter for [Safety Patrol] from AAA, and I thought this was exactly what I want to do with the program. This isn’t anything like what was at Rocky Hill before.”

Another issue was “the Washington D-C trip,” Smith said. “It’s increasingly harder to find chaperones; it’s off teacher-contract time and things like that.”

Moving forward, “I think we’ll have a pretty good program that definitely honors the code of Safety Patrol as far as developing leadership and responsibility, but has some other pieces to it that will really add ownership by the students to the program and make it a meaningful program for them,” he said.


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