Great Lakes parents roll with school drop-off changes
More than 400 students are dropped off at the school every morning.
Parent volunteers donned bright yellow vests and even brighter smiles to tackle traffic congestion during morning drop-off at Great Lakes Elementary School last week.
One day in, School Board Clerk Laura Gapske was already a fan. She mentioned the new parking lot patrol at the March 2 Committee of the Whole Meeting.
“These people really stepped up to keep kids safe,” she said.
The school has 433 students and only 20 of them are bussed, said Great Lakes PTA president Sara Schubert-McKone. With more than 400 children being dropped off from 8-9 a.m., it’s hectic.
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Leah Hollenbach’s 9-year-old son calls the drop-off lane beside the playground the “tuck and roll” section.
“It’s such an issue for safety because the school patrol is trying to get the kids safely across both the parking lot and the driveway, and they’re almost getting hit every day,” she said.
On Feb. 27, Schubert-McKone and Hollenbach approached Principal Ryan Haroldson and elementary school liaison Officer Mike Kendall about launching a volunteer effort to make drop-off smoother. It started March 2.
“We’re trying to make it a little safer,” Haroldson said, and he’s thankful for their efforts.
Access to the teacher parking lot is blocked off in the morning and parents can only use the drop-off lanes. They’re asked to pull up as far as they can before dropping students off and to stay in their vehicles. Volunteers are positioned along the route to wave parents ahead.
“We’ve kind of enforced a one-way drive and it’s getting people all on the same page,” Hollenbach said. “People have been super cooperative. We’re getting a lot of thumbs up. We’re getting a lot of waves, a lot of thank yous.”
Administrative Assistant Melissa Gondik said there have been less tardies since the parents started volunteering to direct traffic, and she hasn’t had to buzz in as many children through the front door.
“People are getting accustomed to the change and they’re rolling with it,” Hollenbach said.
Volunteers are quick to hand out high-fives and cheers to parents driving by.
The program hinges on volunteers. Four to six people are needed each morning from 8-9 a.m. No special training is needed and vests are provided. Volunteers don’t have to be parents. Anyone is welcome, from school board members to church groups, grandparents, University of Wisconsin-Superior students or workers from local businesses.
“You just have to be willing to smile and wave at people and encourage them to move forward,” Hollenbach said.
It’s just an hour, Schubert-McKone said, and it’s fun. People can sign up through a link on the Great Lakes Facebook page for a shift.
“If everyone works together, it will be a huge positive for the community,” Hollenbach said.