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A Lesson on Safety

Helicopter lands at Centre Ridge assembly for safety patrols.

A Fairfax County police helicopter made a landing at Centre Ridge Elementary School Friday afternoon. It wasn't an emergency — the helicopter was there to help the school honor its safety patrols. Every year the staff sets up something special to show appreciation to the students who help ensure the school's safety.

"LAST YEAR we had the K-9 unit come out," said school resource officer Amy Chambers. These ceremonies are also used to show students what they have to look forward to. "If the students see what they can do when they get older, they will work harder," said school liaison Melanie Mika.

Fairfax County police officers MPD Scott Moskowitz and PFC Tony Mattos discussed the importance of safety, teamwork and communication. Moskowitz told the students that they all have to work together to make everything run properly.

The officers taught the safety patrols what to do in certain situations and how to react to problems. They also discussed the equipment that is used on a helicopter, and gave the students a chance to look inside.

Centre Ridge has about 50 safety patrols in grades 5 and 6 who enforce safety on the school buses, playground, parking lot, and even the halls. They are the first ones on the bus in the mornings, and the last ones off. Safety patrols are nominated by their teachers and must retain a satisfactory report card. These students have to learn to be tough, even to their friends. Each month the safety patrol participates in meetings with Chambers. At the meetings, they receive training and work on how to communicate with other students in a forceful manner. They say that their biggest problem is getting others to listen to them.

"Being on the safety patrol has very few benefits and they have to deal with a lot from the other students," said Chambers. "These students need to be reminded of how appreciated they are."