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Pumpkin Center Elementary wins safety designation

A summer of work paid off for the faculty and staff at Pumpkin Center Elementary School.
The school was named a 2005-06 Triple “S” Super Safe School by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
“It made us have to go back and address some things,” said Pumpkin Center Elementary assistant principal Chip Cathey. “It was a really good process.”
According to the Department of Instruction, the goal of the program is to recognize and decrease the incidences of school crime and violence by implementing strategies.
This is the first time Pumpkin Center applied for the award, and it’s the only Lincoln County school to win this year.
Cathey and other administrators were inspired to apply after North Brook Elementary and Rock Springs received the distinction last year.
To be eligible, schools must complete a portfolio with three years of information including a code of conduct, crisis, communication and comprehensive plans, evidence of prevention activities and training and staff development safety training.
“The biggest thing it does is assures parents that we are making safety progress, and it makes sure for us that we are getting it right,” said Cathey.
Cathey said that one of the benefits of this year’s work was a new fence put up around the playground.
The school also reworked its fire escape routes to further reduce the time for evacuating.
“We can pretty much get every kid evacuated in two minutes,” said Cathey.
Being honored for safety achievements is especially impressive for Pumpkin Center, since it is one of the most overcrowded schools in the county.
“To be able to get this on top of our numbers, it really does make you feel good,” Cathey said.
Because of their efforts, the school was honored Feb. 2 along with 42 other state schools during the 2006 Safe Schools Conference at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro.
Principal Sheila Finger represented the school and received a plaque and certificate, which will be displayed in the front office.
Though honored by the award, Cathey says it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the entire school community.
“It really does go back to the parents as well,” he said. “I know if we didn’t have the parents’ support of safety procedures and getting the kids here then we couldn’t have gotten the award.”
Officials are already making plans for next year. Improvements include purchasing a loud speaker to be mounted on top of the building so at any part of the campus, staff and students will be able to hear if there is an emergency.
“It took all the pieces together to make it work,” Cathey said.
by Mary Williams

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