Friday, June 18, 2021
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'Safety Day' at Idaho Hill

by RACHEL SUN
Staff Writer | June 10, 2021 1:00 AM

OLDTOWN — Students crowded together, gasping in awe each time the electric buzz went off. The zaps snapping and popping through the air, came from a toy neighborhood filled with electrical wires, a bucket truck, school bus and electrical box.

The demonstration by Bronson Gersenberger and James Huling with the Pend Oreille Utility District was part of Idaho Hill Elementary’s annual “Safety Day” held Wednesday at the school.

The demonstration was among a variety of presentations, which also included bear safety lessons by members of the Kalispel Tribe’s natural resources department, water safety by the Army Corps of Engineers and a fire safety demonstration by the West Pend Oreille Fire District.

The day isn’t just helpful to ensure students are well-prepared for summer activities, said Dona Storro, school secretary and organizer for the event. It also helps children find out about jobs they might like to do in the future.

At the bear safety station, students got to learn from biologist Megan Wright and Mike Lithgow. In addition to bear safety, students learned about the bears themselves, hibernation and their food sources.

Students also had the chance to ask presenters questions about their jobs, including school resource officer and Sgt. Chris Davis with Priest River Police, West Pend Oreille Fire Chief Jamie Painton and Newport Towing’s Gus Riley.

“We have really tried to focus on giving the kids the opportunity to see careers that are available to them that don't require, you know, going to a big university,” Storro said. “You can be a lineman, you can work at the Corps of Engineers, you know, you don't have to go on to a four-year degree because there's a lot of opportunities for kids.”

The demonstrations create high levels of student engagement, said Principal Susie Luckey.

“We always try to tie their basic skills to real life situations,” she said.

Another goal for safety day, Luckey said, is to familiarize students with emergency first responders. As the firefighters spoke to students during their presentation, they instructed students on what to do in the case of a fire.

“It’s a scary situation, but if you hear us calling out, ‘Is anyone here?’ let us know where you are,” one firefighter told students during the presentation.

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Students listen to a demonstration by the West Pend Oreille Fire District Wednesday at Idaho Hill Elementary.

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Gus Riley with Newport Towing gives a safety presentation to students and shows them how his tow truck works Wednesday at Idaho Hill Elementary.

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Sam Thompson (left) and Sarah Kiela with the Army Corps of Engineers educate students on water safety Wednesday at Idaho Hill Elementary.

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Sgt. Chris Davis gives stickers to students at the end of his presentation on bicycle safety at Idaho Hill Elementary Wednesday.

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Students meet Cisco the dog during Sgt. Chris Davis's presentation on bicycle safety.

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Students crowd around a miniature neighborhood as lineman James Huling presents on electrical safety Wednesday at Idaho Hill Elementary.

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Photo by RACHEL SUN

Students raise their hands to ask questions during safety demonstrations Wednesday at Idaho Hill Elementary.

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Tree trimmer Bronson Gerstenberger (left) and lineman James Huling with the Pend Oreille Utility District give a presentation on electrical safety Wednesday at Idaho Hill Elementary.

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Biologist Megan Wright with the Kalispel Natural Resources Department gives a presentation on bear safety Wednesday at Idaho Hill Elementary.

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Students watch a presentation by Fire Engineer Dan Martin while firefighter Brittany Nordhagen demonstrates what a firefighter would wear to a call Wednesday at Idaho Hill Elementary.