STRATFORD, Conn. -- Pat Castle of Stratford made her mark as a AAA School Safety Patroller in the late 1960s. Her beat: the small triangular green in front of Larkin School in Ansonia, where she partnered with another girl – Marie Douglas – to keep students safe as they crossed the streets.
“Marie was one of the funniest, most good-hearted souls I have ever had the pleasure to know,” said Castle, who is now a reading consultant. “Whenever there were no walkers around, she’d run down the hill to me and we’d talk and laugh and share our war stories of kids who wouldn’t want to wait for us to signal them.”
Fifty years later, the Larkin School is now the Ansonia Police Department. Sadly, Castle's friend, Marie, died at a relatively young age.
But Castle, who eventually worked as a school crossing guard in Hamden, still thinks about her friend. “Thanks Safety Patrol Program,” she says, “for bringing together two unlikely geeks, who found a shared purpose and a sense of belonging through civil service.”
Castle was one of several hundred AAA members and former school patrollers from Litchfield, Fairfield, and New Haven Counties, who responded to a request earlier this year to share their patrol memories as a way to mark the 95th anniversary of the AAA School Patrol Program.
Former patrollers include Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Vice President Joe Biden; Olympic gold medalists Eric Heiden, Caitlyn Jenner; and Edwin Moses; Baseball Hall of Famers Joe Garagiola, Tom Seaver and Al Kaline; as well as several Supreme Court justices, U.S. senators, governors, and astronauts.
“The program helps students develop leadership skills and encourages academic achievement and commitment to community involvement,” says Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast’s School Safety Patrol coordinator. “Their duties earn respect and recognition from peers, school administrators and community leaders.”
The largest safety program in the world with 600,000 patrollers, the program in the Northeast covers Litchfield, Fairfield, and New Haven Counties, with an estimated 2,000 students serving at 35 schools as school patrol bus, playground, and hallway monitors.
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