The kids who went to kindergarten this fall had a lot of fun learning about safety.


Parents and grandparents packed the gymnasium at the Spanish Immersion School on Friday morning for Mansfield Police Safety Town’s 85th graduation session.

The children in the free summer program celebrated with a classroom party before the ceremony with lots of snacks.

Around 100 young people graduated from Safety Town at 10 a.m. at the Mansfield Town Schools building on Euclid Avenue.

Ginger Antrican, who oversees the Safety Town program, said the first session had to be canceled due to a storm and the resulting three-day power outage. And, she said, a few children were missing from the program due to COVID-19 this summer.

“We moved these kids from the first session to the second and third sessions,” Antrican said on Friday.

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The kids from Safety Town had a fun week riding a school bus, meeting Smokey Bear, doing crafts and having a special guest each day that was coordinated with each safety lesson and a short film.

Antrican said the students learned how to call 911 and know their name, phone number and address.

Mansfield firefighters brought the fire truck and garden hose. The American Red Cross also stopped to speak to the children.

Mansfield Police Officer Joseph Jessie spent a lot of time at Safety Town and received a few “Hi Police Officer” from the children who were lined up in the hallway outside the gym before the ceremony.

Mansfield Police Officer Joseph Jessie, left, reassures a shy Safety Town graduate on Friday as he prepares to accept his diploma from Mansfield Police Chief Keith Porch and Deputy Chief Jason Bammann.

Jessie lent a hand to a shy boy wearing his construction paper graduation hat who was hesitant to walk into the center of the gymnasium to get his graduation certificate from Mansfield Police Chief Keith Porch during the ceremony.

Henry Streff, 5, said he loves everything about Safety Town, but especially playing and cycling in the miniature town that has been set up on the playground.

Five-year-old Addilyn Foltz said she loves doing crafts. The two youngsters will start kindergarten in the fall.

Miss Ohio Betta Nies and Miss Ontario Abigail Kern also made appearances with Mansfield Mayor Tim Theaker.

Miss Ohio Betta Nies, center, came to Mansfield Safety Town on Friday to meet children.  At left is instructor Caylynn Penney;  at right is Miss Ontario Abigail Kern.

Gina Brickner Poliniski came to see her granddaughter Aloiya Brickner graduate.

Aloiya, 4, will attend kindergarten this fall at Discovery School, her grandmother said.

“Aloiya liked riding the school bus and she learned to cross the street. She was talking about everything she learned,” Brickner said.

Nationally, more than 120,000 children entering kindergarten each year learn life-saving lessons through these programs.

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Caylynn Penney was among the Safety Town instructors. She plans to teach kindergarten or first grade one day. She is currently an education student at Ohio State University Mansfield.

She said the kids were great, had a lot of fun and learned a lot about safety.

On Friday, the children waited patiently for Safety Town's graduation from the Spanish immersion school.

After the ceremony, the families headed outside to take photos with officers and firefighters outside their vehicles.

Mansfield Safety Town – considered the first in the country – was started by Mansfielder Fred Boals and kindergarten teacher Ruth Robbins in 1937. It is a summer project that emphasizes the pedestrian safety for preschoolers. Boals was then the city’s traffic commissioner.

Approximately 60 sponsors donated to this year’s Safety Town program.

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