2008-08-28 / Front Page

Expert advice for a safe successful school year

By Eileen M. Daly

The new school year is set to begin—students are making last minute preparations, parents are adjusting schedules to make sure children make it to school on time, and the last minute rush is on. In order to insure that children have a safe and productive year experts offer the following advice.

Jamestown police Sergeant Keith Woodbine suggests that drivers show some extra caution at this time of year as residents can expect a lot of children to be on or near the roads. "We should all exercise a little extra patience at this time of year," Sgt. Woodbine said. School zones have a speed limit of 25 miles per hour in order to ensure everyone's safety. Officers will be patrolling these areas, he said, and violators will receive expensive speeding tickets. Drivers also need to be alert and aware of busses, according to Woodbine. Drivers who pass a stopped bus that is displaying a stop signal will be summoned to court. If they fail to appear in court, an arrest warrant will be issued, he said.

Sgt. Woodbine offered some safety advice for children as well. Students who ride the bus to school should always listen to the bus monitor, he said. "Children should not move anywhere in or around the bus until the monitor gives an instruction," according to Woodbine. It is also extremely important that children know to never play anywhere near a bus, Woodbine said. "These are big machines and children can easily get hurt."

Walkers should take some special precautions according to Woodbine. "The buddy-rule is a good rule to observe especially if children are walking home late from school when it is starting to get dark," he said. Walkers should stay on sidewalks or on the side of the road if a sidewalk is not available. Extra precautions should be taken in rainy weather, Woodbine said. "Children should wear bright yellow or other fluorescent colored rain gear to insure that motorists can see them in the rain."

Finally, students who ride their bikes to school should remember to follow all traffic rules, Woodbine said. "Bikers should stop at stop signs, use hand signals and should walk their bikes across crossways and intersections," he said.

Carole Melucci, principal of Melrose Avenue School agrees that safety is of paramount importance at this time of year. School zone speed limits are especially important, Melucci said. "The students' safety is our most important concern," Melucci said. With that in mind, she has devised a very detailed dismissal plan that will be given out to students with their welcome packet. "If everyone follows the dismissal procedures students will be able to leave school safely," she said.

Dropping students off to begin their day sometimes requires a little extra finesse, according to Melucci, especially for younger students who might experience some separation anxiety. She suggests that parents discuss the drop-off plan ahead of time and explain to the children exactly what to expect. "If parents can bring their children to the playground and say their goodbyes at the fence it will ease some of the anxiety, especially if the student already knows what to expect," Melucci said.

Both Melucci and Kathleen Almanzor, principal of Lawn Avenue School, agree that establishing good routines is important for academic success. Established times for bed, homework, and playtime will help students to perform better in school, according to both Melucci and Almanzor. "Consistency and clear expectations are key," Melucci said.

"Organization is another key component," Almanzor said. She emphasized the importance of having both an evening and a morning routine. "Having an established work place for completing homework, a place for students to keep important papers and clear expectations about what students need to do and when will help them to be successful in school," Almanzor said. Balance is also an important factor with all of the activities now available for students. "A good rule for younger students is one activity per week," Almanzor said, "Children need to learn to make good choices and also have some time for free play."

Established routines, clear expectations, careful attention to safety procedures, and a little extra patience is good advice for helping to insure that Jamestown's school children all benefit from a safe and successful school year.

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