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Carpentersville students credited with making buses safer

Students new program Perry Elementary School are being credited for dramatically reducing problem behavior school buses increasing school pride.

Students in a new program at Perry Elementary School are being credited for dramatically reducing problem behavior on school buses and increasing school pride. | SUBMITTED PHOTO

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Updated: March 5, 2013 6:16AM

CARPENTERSVILLE — As fourth grader Alize Miller began to read aloud the statement she had prepared about her decision to join the Perry Elementary School bus safety patrol, her mother encouraged her to speak up.

“I can’t hear you,” the proud mother said from the front row of the special recognition ceremony, held Thursday morning in the school cafeteria.

Alize shot back a bashful “MOM!” then continued more loudly with her speech, cameras capturing every moment.

“I wanted to be a good example to other kids,” a now-smiling Alize declared, “and to learn better leadership skills.”

Serving as student leaders and role models in their school — and on their school bus — is exactly what the Perry bus safety patrol program is all about. The program was started last October through the leadership of School District 300 behavior interventionist Cheryl Frederickson in partnership with Perry staff, the D300 director of transportation, and the school’s bus drivers.

Behavior problems on the Perry buses had been so pervasive that bus riders were issued discipline referrals to the school office more than 25 times in September 2012 alone. Frederickson credited the bus safety patrol program for shrinking that number to just four discipline referrals in the past four months put together.

“Our goal was to reduce office referrals and increase student engagement,” she said. “Because if they’re in the office, they’re not learning.”

The students had to apply to be part of the program, which has been as powerful for them as for their peers. The students in the safety patrol group have become school leaders and have made dramatic turn-arounds in their own behavior. In addition to Alize, the group includes fourth-graders Heavenly Miller, Ariel Fuller, Leslie Meza, Michael Hernandez, Dulce Dorantes, Javell Fowler, Jeremy Gholston, Carol Valentin, Jonathan Tamayo, and Emre Flores.

It also includes Jazlyn Moore, who said at Thursday’s recognition ceremony that she wanted to be part of the patrol because she cares about her classmates.

“I decided to apply because I love the kids that are on my bus,” Jazlyn said. “I chose to be a bus helper so I can help others and so they can be safe.”

The program has been so effective that district staff are considering expanding it to a few other schools. Perry Principal Leo Ortiz-Sanchez told the students during Thursday’s festivities that they are helping reshape the school culture.

“We just want Perry to be known for positive things,” he said. “We are so excited about what you kids are doing. This is all about you today.”

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