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Look both ways ...Police, Pirates offer G.D. Rogers students school zone safety tips


G.D. Rogers Elementary kindergartner Jordan Voltaire said he knows to look both ways when he crosses the street on his way to school.

Abby Mickel, a first-grade student at the school, said she knows to only walk across the street at crosswalks.

But for their classmates who need reminding about school zone safety tips, Bradenton Police Department and Pittsburgh Pirates representatives visited the recently opened elementary school a few blocks from Mc-Kechnie Field for a refresher course Wednesday.

That’s because Pirates spring training games start next week at the field on Ninth Street West and will significantly increase traffic in the area.

The school, in the 500 block of 13th Avenue West, is located less than 1,000 feet from McKechnie Field.

This is the first year the new school is open during spring training.

“Each year in the United States, 50,000 children are treated for injuries related to pedestrian car accidents,” Bradenton Police Traffic Sgt. Brian Thiers told students. “Always pay attention to the crossing guard or police officer and look three times before you cross the street.”

Students who ride a bike, scooter or skateboard to school were also reminded they must wear helmets and must walk their bike or scooter, or carry their skateboard across crosswalks. Those who rollerblade to school must also remove the blades and walk across the crosswalk, he said.

The Pittsburgh Pirates mascot was also on hand during the assembly to help demonstrate to children the proper way to cross the street.

“About 6,000 people attend the games, and we anticipate an additional 3,000 cars, so we want to make sure everyone is paying attention to the new school,” said Trevor Goodby, Pirates senior director of Florida operations.

Goodby said he also wants to remind drivers to pay attention to the 15 mph speed limit in the new school zone area.

Thiers said two out of three drivers speed through school zones, so he warned students to be more aware of the traffic.

“I want you guys to pay attention,” Thiers told the enthusiastic group of youngsters as the Pirates mascot waved to the audience.

He also encouraged students to walk to and from school or the bus stop in groups and told them to be a good example when they walk with younger children.

“What do you do if a stranger approaches you and offers you a ride?” Thiers asked students.

The hand of first-grade student Kaeliana McMillian immediately shot up. “Turn around and run,” Kaeliana shouted.

“Good answer,” Thiers responded. “And scream loud.”

As a reward for their listening skills Wednesday morning, Goodby handed out free tickets to the Pirates’ game against the State College of Florida set for 12:05 p.m. Tuesday at McKechnie Field.