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ST. MARYS — Local students received a lesson in safety as part of an official’s visit to their school on Wednesday.
“Magic Tom” Rozoff and St. Marys Ptl. Kevin Draiss presented the Officer Phil and PALS program at St. Marys Intermediate School on Wednesday.
“The Officer Phil program is sponsored by the St. Marys Police Department and is paid for by local businesses,” Rozoff told The Evening Leader. “Each student will get a safety booklet, and it mentions the local businesses.”
During his program, Rozoff took the students on an imaginary journey to Responsibility Road, where they met a few characters along the way.
“Officer Phil believes that everybody in this room can make good things happen, not only here at school, but at home and here in the community, too,” Rozoff said. “Along the way, Officer Phil has promised to leave us clues on how to get there, and since our goal is going to be to find Responsibility Road, we’re going to work together today as PALS — to protect one another, to alert somebody if you see a problem, to listen to what’s going on around you, to speak up to a community helper if you do see a problem.”
Community helpers, he added, are people like Draiss and other members of the police department who help keep the community safe.
Rozoff showed the students a few magic tricks — he ended up creating an umbrella out of scarves.
“This is the silliest umbrella that I’ve ever seen, but allow me to speak up, I think it’s also the coolest umbrella I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Rozoff also asked for a volunteer, and Draiss chose third-grade student Lucy Spencer to help him with “an experiment.” Rozoff spoke about traveling safely — noting safety in a school bus, as well as in a car.
“Until we’re about the age of 12, we should be sitting in the back seat,” Rozoff said.
“Now some boys and girls they walk to school — keep it on the sidewalk. And if there is no sidewalk, we should be up in the grass away from the curb so we’re not close to the street when the cars go by, and if we have to cross the street, we go down to the corner to cross.”
Rozoff added if the students need help, they are always allowed to go to a police officer if they need help.
Next, Rozoff introduced Turbo the turtle, who told the students to cross the street slowly and to stay off Stranger Street.
Rozoff and Turbo stressed to the students that they not go near strange animals and that they take care of themselves by eating healthy and by exercising and getting enough sleep.
After speaking with Turbo, Rozoff then introduced Mac the Mouse, who recently received a computer, who talked about computer safety with the students.
“Just like we’re polite here at school, we need to be polite on the computer, too,” Rozoff said. “Be polite on the computers, when we’re on the computer, we never say bad things about people. That can hurt feelings, just like being a bully here at school, that can hurt people, too.”
He also told Mac and the students to not give out their personal information on the computer, stressing never give out their real name, their address and their phone number.
After speaking with Mac, Rozoff played a game with the students. Draiss picked two volunteers, third-grade students Morgan Seewer and Ethan Anderson, to help play the game, after each question he removed a sign.
Morgan received the first question, which was about bullying.
“If somebody is making somebody, the way they talk or the way they look or the way they act, that’s being a bully, tell somebody, one of our community helpers,” Rozoff said.
Ethan received the next question, which was about stranger danger.
“Never ever, ever go with a stranger for any reason at all,” Rozoff said. “If a stranger wants you to go with him, turn around and run away. While you’re running, scream and yell so that somebody can hear you and come help you. Go back home and tell your parents immediately.”
The next question went back to Morgan, which was on computer safety.
“Never give out your personal information,” Rozoff said. “If somebody wants to know your name, address or phone number, click off that computer and tell your parents immediately.”
The last question went back to Ethan, which was about healthy choices.
“If we’re going to be healthy, we have to eat properly and when we do, that gives us power,” Rozoff said.
After Rozoff removed the last sign, there was Responsibility Road.
“It was in front of us the whole time, all we had to do to get to Responsibility Road was make the right choices,” he said. “We hope that you had a good time here today, but more importantly, we hope you learned a little bit about safety and making the right choices. Remember, staying on Responsibility Road is just a matter of making the right choices, but to do it, we’re going to have to work together as PALS, to protect one another, to alert somebody if you see a problem, to listen to what’s going on around you, to speak up to a community helper if there is a problem.”