SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The South Plainfield Recreation Department held its second Safety Town graduation of the 2015 season on Friday.
Head teacher Kiley Squier and assistant teacher Kenny Crilley began the graduation ceremony with opening remarks to the audience followed by the students singing “At the Curb,” “Stop, Look, and Listen” and “The Fire Song.” Additionally, to show off the safety skills they learned, the children, each with a volunteer instructor, rode bikes and crossed street in the mock town set up in the PAL gym. The ceremony concluded with the awarding of certificates to each Safety Town graduate.
“This is a great program for kids and offers a chance for them to practice safety skills in the real world,” said Squier. “The love coming, seeing their friends and, most of all, showing their family what they learned.”
Over the course of Safety Town’s two-week session, children ages 4 to 6 learned about bike safety, fire safety; poison safety, pool safety, stranger safety and street safety. At the indoor Safety Town course, students were paired with volunteer instructors who work with them one-on-one, teaching them how to how to safely cross the street on a bike, how to watch out for pedestrians and the importance of following traffic rules.
The students also went on two fun and informative field trips. At the South Plainfield Community Pool, students learned about water safety and discussed the pool’s guidelines as well as had the opportunity to go swimming in the kiddie pool. During their visit to the South Plainfield Volunteer Fire Department, Safety Town participants not only learned additional fire safety skills but also had a chance to sit in a fire truck and spray the fire hose into Spring Lake Park.
“He came home excited every day and told us what he learned,” said Janet Sousa about her son, Caleb. “It’s a great program and I feel, without a doubt, that he benefited from it.”
Tanya Benevento, whose 5-year-old daughter Sophia completed the program, added, “I like that someone other than me taught her how to cross the street and the places to go in case of an emergency.” Also, Sophia is now very aware of the smoke alarms in her home. “She keeps checking them and telling us we have to change the batteries every month,” Benevento laughed.
Sophia, who will start kindergarten in the fall, said her favorite thing about the program was her instructor but that she also “learned about a lot of safety things like crossing the street and how it’s important to always walk your bike across the street.”
Kim Hoppe, whose daughter Carly graduated on Friday, added, “I did it as a kid, my oldest attended three years ago and Carly completed it today. It’s nice tradition to continue.”
For Crilley, who began as a volunteer while in middle school and has been involved with Safety Town for the past nine summers, this year’s Safety Town was his last. “It’s been great. Each year, there are always great volunteers and great kids,” he said, adding, “The best thing is that each year there is a new group of children and I enjoy seeing how they development from the first day to the last day.”
Congratulations to Safety Town session two graduates: Isabella Batshaw, Sophia Benevento, Jake Botti, Jayden Celentano, Jennifer Chan, Jessica Chan, Maya Coppola, Matthew Edwards, Carly Hoppe, Isabella Kapsch, Kaylie Mayta, Caleb Sousa, Donato Venetucci and Laina Wilson. Special thanks also to volunteer instructors Miranda Bourbeau, Danielle Bythell, Noah Cabrera, Brandy Calvi, Karly Dobrynio, Bobby Gwiazda, Amy Heller, Neekah Hinds, Jamilette Molina, Drew Rachwal and Amy Swartz; Danielle, Noah and Drew are all former Safety Town students.
The South Plainfield Recreation Department has been hosting Safety Town for the past 13 summers (prior, the program was offered through the Junior Women’s Club) and this year the ‘town’ get a fresher look thanks to the 11 members of Girl Scout Troop #65129 who, under the guidance of Troop Leaders Georgia Lambert and Wendy Dobrynio, sanded, repaired and repainted the Safety Town ‘buildings.’ The project enabled the Cadettes, who have all began together since Franklin Elementary and currently attend Grant, to earn their Junior Bronze Award. Congratulations to Maria Callanan, Brandy Calvi, Karly Dobrynio, Amy Heller, Nyla Johnson, Xenia Lambert, Zoe Lambert, Kelcy McCoy, Carolivana Mata, Cameron Perales and Amy Swartz.