First graders learn safety tips |

First graders learn safety tips

Cindy Ramunno
Vail Daily/Shane Macomber Michelle Nelmeyer, 7, boasts with excitement as he finally gets his turn in the snow plow.

Think back … no… way back, back to when you were about 6-years-old and everything looked fun – even if it was dangerous. Jumping on the back bumper of a moving car; fearlessly hopping on a sheet of metal down a snowy hill; throwing yourself head first in a deep pool of water – are you remembering that time when everything seemed like an opportunity for adventure.

So when Gypsum Elementary first grade teachers invited parents to schools to talk about their careers, Eagle County Road and Bridge staff members took it a step further and provided students with a little lesson in safety.

Eagle County Road and Bridge dads John Harris and Blake Martin were asked to come in with some big machinery. That got Road and Bridge Director Brad Higgins thinking.

Over the years, Higgins said he and others in the department have had near heart attacks when kids jump in front of snowplows, attempt to ride the blade and other crazy stunts.

“On more than one occasion I’ve been plowing and all of the sudden a kid’s head pokes out of the snow,” says Higgins. What the driver then realizes is that he/she was close to plowing down a snow fort and maybe an occupant or two. Kids have also been known to surprise a driver by jumping in front of a plow at the last minute to get a cool, refreshing spray of snow.

“We decided to take this opportunity to not only educate the students about our careers, but also educate them on safety around machinery including snowplows,” Higgins says. With kids not understanding exactly how a plow works, Martin and Harris explained that it’s unsafe to be close to the plows and made the Gypsum first graders aware of the dangers.

Teachers, students and principal Mike Gass were impressed and appreciative of the lesson. “Eagle County Road and Bridge came in and showcased snowplow safety and overall safety and our kids were excited and attentive,” Gass said.

First graders also made a trip to WestStar Bank to learn about money and banking as part of the careers program.

The students also heard from an artist and learned about quilting and playing the harmonica. “The students get really excited when parents and community members come into the classroom,” teacher Jennifer Liddington says.

For more information on education programs throughout Eagle County, call 328-8613. For more information on programs at Gypsum Elementary, call 328-8940.

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