First photo: Audra Findley helps students safely cross NW 44th Street. Second photo: The safety patrol closet at Lincoln Elementary. Third photo: Audra Findley. Photos by Cheryl Boatman. Fourth photo, from left: Chris Reykdal, state superintendent of public instruction; Pam Pannkuk, deputy director, Washington Traffic Safety Commission; Audra Findley; and Harry Thomas, vice president/CEO of marketing, AAA Washington. Fifth photo: Audra on the field at T-Mobile Park with fellow 2019 Safety Patrol Hall of Fame inductees. Photos courtesy of AAA Washington.
Amidst the morning bustle before the bell rings, safety patrollers in their neon-colored vests are an essential part of starting the school day off right. Students and staff members take on the important task of ushering pedestrians across streets. Their presence is a reminder to motorists to slow down and proceed with caution.
Crossing guard duties may be the most recognizable of a safety patroller’s responsibilities, but it’s far from the only one. For Audra Findley, a fifth grader at Lincoln Elementary, being in the safety patrol also is about making people feel welcome at her school. When she’s not stationed at an intersection, she greets people near the library in the morning and helps direct the school’s kindergartners before and after school.
Audra was intrigued by the idea of the patrol and signed up as soon as she became eligible this year. “I just knew right away that I wanted to do it because it sounded like fun and I like helping people a lot,” she said.
Her tech-savviness and initiative have made her a leader. Audra created a space in Google Drive so that her fellow patrollers and the adviser could collaborate and store information. She catalogued supplies and implemented space-saving organization in the safety patrol closet. New safety patrollers benefit from her training and comprehensive knowledge of rules and procedures. In addition, Audra monitors patrol turnout so that she can fill in wherever needed.
Recently, Audra was one of just 10 students statewide and the only Southwest Washingtonian selected for the 2019 AAA Washington School Safety Patrol Hall of Fame. The patrollers, selected from more than 35 nominations, were honored during a special awards ceremony held before a Seattle Mariners game in late April. Each also received a $500 gift card to purchase patrol equipment.
Accolades are nice, but for Audra the joy is in giving back to the Lincoln community. She said, “You know you did something really important.”