XENIA — Abigail Snyder knew she was up for a pretty big safety patrol honor.
But when the Cox Elementary School fifth grader was called to her advisor’s classroom, the 10-year-old was stumped.
“I didn’t really know what was going to happen,” Snyder said.
She wasn’t in trouble, however. Quite the opposite.
Snyder was being told she was named the 2022 AAA School Safety Patroller of the Year.
In. The. Entire. Miami. Valley.
“I almost started crying,” Snyder said. “I was in shock. I was just very excited and I was just very grateful.”
Given annually, the award recognizes exemplary leadership qualities, safety skills, school involvement, and citizenship/volunteerism, according to AAA officials.
Snyder — a first-year patroller — pretty much encompasses all of those, according to LaShann Latimer, one of the school’s advisors.
“Abigail (Abby) showed leadership qualities,” Latimer said in explaining why she nominated Snyder. “She was on time and at her post on a regular basis. She is very impressive. Abby was determined to keep our Cox students safe and out of harms way. In my house she reached that goal.”
Snyder joined the safety patrol this year because she wanted to be a leader, not a follower.
“That’s a really big responsibility,” she said. “I wanted to prove to everybody that I did have that in me. I wanted to show I’m responsible. I’m always making sure the other kids are really safe. I’m always making sure the kids are staying in the crosswalk. I’m a very kind person.”
Snyder has caught on to being a safety patroller so quickly that she’s earned more responsibilities.
“I’m actually training kids right now,” she said.
That’s another trait AAA officials like to see.
“The recipients of this award are committed to leading others in a positive way and build on this strong foundation to become talented leaders across many fields and professions,” said AAA Public Affairs Manager Kara Hitchens. “(Snyder) exemplifies all the qualities of a true leader.”
The AAA School Safety Patrol Program began in 1920 when Charles M. Hayes, then president of the Chicago Motor Club, created the program after witnessing several children being struck and killed by a vehicle at a school crossing. Hayes pledged to help prevent such a tragedy from happening again by using the patrol program to protect students traveling to, from, and around schools.
Snyder’s mother, Samantha, was also a member of the patrol when she was in school.
“I was very excited for her to follow in my footsteps,” Samantha said. “I’m super proud of her. I’m glad that she has taken such pride in this.”
On Wednesday an official recognition took place at the school, during which Snyder received a plaque and a $100 gift card along with a few other goodies for earning the award.
“I’m just very thankful for it,” she said.
Thankful … and safe.