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Cape youth named 2015 Patroller of the Year

By Staff | Sep 11, 2015

A Cape Coral boy was named the 2015 Patroller of the Year for the state of Florida.

Organized by the AAA Auto Club Group, the AAA School Safety Patrol Program recognizes one deserving patrol member from each state for the annual award. Jake Ellis, 11, formerly a 5th grader with Gulf Elementary School, was picked to receive the honor from a statewide pool of nominees.

He was awarded in May at the annual AAA School Safety Patrol Appreciation Day in Orlando.

Lindsey Pavlick, a traffic safety project coordinator for the AAA Auto Club Group, explained that each of the nominees are judged on leadership qualities, safety skills, school involvement and citizenship.

“And how that patroller meets those,” she said.

Teachers, principals and such nominate students on the safety patrol for the award.

Once nominated, the students must submit a 500-word essay describing their patroller experience. This year’s topic was how participating in the safety patrol program helped them to become a better leader.

“He addressed the importance of traffic safety,” Pavlick said. “That really made him stand out.”

She explained that Jake included all of the essay topics, but also acknowledged the most important aspect of the program – ensuring the safety of his classmates and the community to and from school.

“It just shows that he was born to lead,” Pavlick said.

Jake received a plaque and his family was treated to a trip to Universal Studios Orlando.

“For all having involvement in his accomplishment,” she said.

On Wednesday, the now sixth-grader expressed his thoughts on the award.

“I was very excited,” Jake said. “It just meant a lot to me.”

Voted on by his peers, he was the first male patrol captain at the school in its 31 years.

“I always try my best at everything, but it was really an honor to be elected,” Jake said.

He learned of the award program through his former principal, Kim Verblaauw.

“She asked me if I thought I was interested, and I said yes,” Jake said.

For his essay, he wrote about his teachers and the school staff and how they played a role in his education. Jake also talked about responsibility, service and respect for anyone and everyone.

“I wrote about the qualities that a safety patroller should have and what they mean to me,” he said. “And we also had to include traffic safety because for AAA that’s a really big thing.”

Jake admitted that he was a little anxious when first faced with the essay.

“I was a little bit nervous about writing it because I was the only nominee from our school,” he said, noting that once he calmed down through it all came together.

Jake was introduced to safety patrol through his older sister, who also participated.

“I kind of looked up to the safety patrollers,” he said. “She was always saying how awesome it was.”

“I loved helping all of the teachers and students,” Jake added.

The duties of patrollers range from keeping an eye on the parent drop-off and pick-up ramps and monitoring the hallways, to helping clean up in the cafeteria and showing new students around.

“We have people stationed everywhere,” he said.

As a program winner, Jake and his family got to stay at the on-site hotel in Orlando and they received unlimited fast passes to all of the rides at the park. He also gave a speech at the awards ceremony.

“It was really awesome and super cool,” he said of the trip.

Jake’s parents, Chris and Christy Ellis, expressed pride in their son’s accomplishment.

“We thought it was an awesome opportunity,” Christy Ellis, a detective with the Cape Coral Police Department, said. “We certainly hoped for the best, but we didn’t expect the overall winner.”

She explained that she and Chris, who is also employed with the Cape police as a lieutenant, knew there were students being nominated statewide. When they first heard that Jake won, they assumed it was on a county or regional level. Learning that he was selected from the entire state was amazing.

“We were really excited at that point and ultra proud, of course,” Ellis said.

According to Pavlick, the AAA School Safety Patrol Program was launched in the early 1920s. The award component of the program was introduced in 2002; it currently is in operation in 11 states.

For more information about the program, visit online at: autoclubsouth.aaa.com.