Four Corners Elementary School alum Sydnie Wedan capped off her fifth grade year with statewide recognition.

Wedan, who will be a sixth grader at Superior Middle School in the fall, earned the AA School Safety Patroller of the Year award for the state of Wisconsin this spring.

The 10-year-old was involved in both the safety patrol and peer leader programs at Four Corners during the 2019-20 school year. In addition to helping students cross safely from the bus to the school building, her morning duties included assisting kindergarten students in the cafeteria during breakfast. That led to her being selected to supervise 10 of them during lunch and recess, said Parent Involvement Coordinator Ellen Chicka.

“She really shined as a peer leader” and developed trusting relationships with the younger students, Chicka said.

Wedan said she enjoyed working with the kindergarteners.

“The smaller kids look up to me, and I get to help them if they need some help,” she said.

During recess, they often asked to play tag together.

“Some of them were fast,” Wedan said. “I was surprised that they could run as fast as I was running.”

Sydnie Wedan poses by a bus at Four Corners Elementary School Wednesday, June 17.  (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
Sydnie Wedan poses by a bus at Four Corners Elementary School Wednesday, June 17. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

In addition to developing positive relationships, Chicka said Wedan was calm and efficient when handling emergency situations, responsible in reporting for safety patrol shifts and willing to volunteer for shifts if other students couldn’t make it. Wedan went to the coordinator or school bus drivers to get clarification on safety rules.

“This has gained her a wealth of knowledge about school safety procedures and policies,” said Chicka. “Other patrollers will often turn to her if they have a question or need assistance during their patrol time.”

If fellow students didn't follow the rules, Wedan made use of the tools available to her.

“I kind of bribe them,” she said, with falcon tickets for good behavior. The tickets can be redeemed for prizes at the school.

Wedan’s mother, Janet, has been driving bus for the Superior School District for 14 years.

“It’s funny watching,” she said. “They know that if they walk, they’ll get a ticket. They’ll walk really slow.”

Roughly 25 fifth-graders, the majority of the class, join the safety patrol at Four Corners each year. Safety patrollers serve an important role, Janet Wedan said, especially at schools in the city where they guide students across streets. Typically, fourth grade students apprentice with fifth grade safety patrol members during the last few months of school. Schools were shuttered this spring, however, so training will have to take place in the fall.

“I think we’ll just have to have staff out there work with them,” Chicka said. “Hopefully they’ve watched the other kids and know the experience and they’ll be able to learn from what they observed.”

Wedan offered one suggestion.

"Remember to bring your falcon tickets," she said.

Four Corners has a history of safety patrol excellence. In 2016, Four Corners fifth grader Sheila Gregerson earned the state award.

“We were so thrilled to have another,” Chicka said.

Wedan said she was happy and excited to learn she won the state award, which qualified her for a trip to Washington, D.C. The trip was canceled this spring, but Wedan was told she could attend next year. She also earned $100 for the school, which was used to purchase new safety patrol flags.

The AAA School Safety Patrol Program was founded in 1920 and includes more than 600,000 patrollers in schools nationwide, according to AAA Director of Public Affairs Nick Jarmusz.