It was a day of fun in the sun for busloads of elementary students who have helped keep their respective schools safe throughout the year.
The annual Mark Dafeldecker Safety Patrol Picnic took place Friday at Medard Park in Plant City. In 2006, the Hillsborough County School Board named the event in honor of the Northwest Elementary principal who died during that school year.
More than 5,000 fifth-graders from across the county attended the event, which is sponsored by the Hillsborough County Elementary Principals Council along with a group of community and business partners that included the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Tampa Fire Rescue and Radio Disney.
“They’re elected at the end of their fourth-grade year, and they’re really the leaders of the school,” said Margaret Busby, head of the 45-student safety patrol at Buckhorn Elementary in Valrico
Busby said safety patrol members’ duties extend beyond being vigilant. Tasks include opening car doors for arriving students in the morning and helping kindergarteners open their lunch items in the cafeteria.
“We have them switch duties about every nine weeks so each of them knows how to do everything,” Busby said.
Each of the students was treated to hot dogs, cool beverages and other treats during the picnic. In addition to hiking along Medard Park’s trails, entertainment was provided by Radio Disney, as well as Orange Grove and Progress Village Middle Magnet schools. Members of the sheriff’s office and fire rescue also had safety demonstrations.