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Vol 5 No. 35 - May 18, 2005

Students prepare for a safe summer

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – The final bell of the season sounds on Thursday, May 27, at Anna Maria Elementary School. Last week, school Resource Officer Pete Lannon gave third graders a lot to think about before they hang up their backpacks for the summer.
Lannon launched his Summer Safety program and aimed it at the third grade students for one reason.

Anna Maria Elementary School Resource Officer Pete Lannon lectures third graders on summer safety.

"You'll come back as fourth-graders next year and you'll start acting like you own the place," he said. "You will be treated with more respect and the younger students will look up to you, so you have a responsibility to be role models."
Lannon told them to wear helmets when they ride their bikes and make sure the strap is snapped in place under their chins. Then he gave them a warning.

"If I see you without a helmet, I will tell you to go home," he said. "The second time, I will give you a warning and your parents will have to come and see me. The third time, you will get a ticket and you will have to see a judge."

Stern words from the man in the police uniform who has spoken so often to the students about safety.

Lannon also showed the youngsters how to properly use their bikes, especially those who have hand brakes, and how to use hand signals. He also showed them where reflectors go and warned them to make sure they have working headlights on the bikes. He spoke of an ordinance in two cities that he would like to see in Anna Maria and Holmes Beach.

"In Longboat Key and Bradenton Beach, you have to have a sound-making device like a bell or horn," he said. "We don't have a law requiring that in Holmes Beach, but I want them to pass one."

As for crosswalks, he warned that kids should not ride across them.

"It is best to get off your bike and wait for the cars to stop," he said. "By law, you could sit on your bike and wait for them to stop, but cars are more inclined to stop if you're on foot."
Then, he touched on avoiding dangerous strangers.

"Never walk alone, don't take shortcuts, tell your parents where you are going and if you will be late," he said. "Don't wear clothes with your name on them because it just gives a stranger more information about you."

If a stranger tries to talk to them from a car while they are riding their bikes, he told them to turn around and go the other way because it takes a long time for a driver to turn around a car on the street. He also warned against getting into a car with someone that they do not know well, even if they say there is a family emergency.

"You should talk to your parents about getting a code word, so that if they are injured in an accident and have to send someone to get you, they can tell that person what the code word is and you'll know it's alright."

After the lecture, he and parent volunteer Debbie Scott handed out packets with information about safety and reflectors the kids could wear on their sneakers.

The reflectors were the fun stuff, but the real stuff was the message he brought.

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