Brand-new tennis shoes and cartoon character backpacks stocked with freshly sharpened pencils and notebooks were in full force throughout the Brainerd lakes area Tuesday as summer vacation came to an end with the first day of school.
While moms and dads dropped their little ones off in the outfit that was laid out the night before — or in some cases weeks prior — ready for a day of learning, fourth-grader Madi Genz added some extra style to her first-day outfit in vibrant orange.
Genz is one of 21 fourth-graders at Harrison Elementary School who can be seen at the crosswalks surrounding the school as a member of the school’s patrol team. Armed with an orange flag saying “STOP” to match the safety vest, each week a new team — there are three that rotate during the regular school year — of patrol kids makes sure students and pedestrians cross the street to Harrison safely. A job Genz said she is happy to undertake.
“I like being able to keep kids safe,” she said of the reason that she decided to join patrol this year. “And I like helping out a lot.”
Harrison staff member Mike Svir, in his first year of being in charge of the patrol team, said that Genz and other patrol members had to attend a week-long camp in Legionville this August to learn the proper procedure before grabbing their flags and vests at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday.
“What they learned (at camp) is put into place starting today,” said Svir, who has been with Harrison Elementary the past five years. “We have four kids each morning and afternoon at our corners and one captain in charge. They stand alert and raise their flag above their head, holding it for four seconds before lowering it to a 45-degree angle.
“Once it’s at that angle, that is a legal stop sign, so that’s when cars are supposed to stop.”
And for the most part, Svir said vehicles do a good job of keeping an extra eye out for the young patrol members.
“They do a big job,” he said. “It’s a role they’re doing and it’s really important cars are watching for them out there and we do want to say a big thank you for the cars that do. These kids are really working hard to keep everyone safe.”