Safety first: Southampton students learn at first jamboreePublished 11:52am Saturday, April 27, 2013
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
COURTLAND—Safety in many forms was the lesson Friday at a jamboree for elementary and middle school students of Southampton County.
Under blue skies, scores of youngsters and their teachers moved from tent to tent on a football field behind Southampton High School. To name a few things, the participants learned how they can prevent being in auto accidents, as well as what firefighters and rescue squad personnel need to do their work.
Joseph Harris, a fifth-grader at Nottoway Elementary School, was challenged to put toothpaste back into a tube. He couldn’t do it, and neither could classmate Jaliseya Walker. Brandon Rodgers, superintendent of the Western Tidewater Community Services Board, compared the task to undoing harm caused by bullying and name-calling.
Nearby, Officer Brandon Woodruff of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries spoke about safely boating and hunting. The game warden also offered advice on dealing with snakes or other wildlife the children might encounter.
Capron Elementary’s Ashby Pope, 9, a third-grader, said he learned the importance of wearing blaze orange while hunting, as well as the different kinds of dogs needed in searching for people. Classmate Andrea Barnes, 10, a fourth-grader, reiterated the toothpaste lesson she witnessed earlier and how “when you say something bad, you can’t take it back.”
At another tent, Virginia State Police First Sgt. Greg Jackson stressed to the students the importance of wearing seatbelts whether they sit in front or in back of a vehicle. He also had the doors open to his own patrol car and the youngsters could look inside.
Michelle Stivers of the Department of Social Services and Amanda Manford, a child protective social worker, spoke about child abuse and neglect.
Representatives from Cover 3 Foundation were on hand to encourage the students to build self-esteem and make positive choices.
Southampton Sgt. M. Turner and Deputy L. Sadler told why students should avoid being in gangs.
As the students went from station to station, they were able to collect goodie bags of pencils, literature and multi-colored “I’m not a bully” wristbands.
“It went very well,” Southampton County Public School Superintendent Dr. Alvera Parrish said. “The kids were really excited.”
Planning for the inaugural event began in November and was a collaborative effort among schools and the community, she added.
“We wanted to try to start a pilot program and then blossom out,” said Chris Smith, school board chairman. A similar event for high school students is being considered for the fall.
One of the results the organizers want to see is “stronger, more focused students,” said Parrish.