SK students get sweet reward for safety plans

If you’re going to give first-graders ice cream, it’s probably best to let them eat it right before recess.

And that’s exactly what Hidden Creek teacher Ann Gresley decided to do when South Kitsap Fire and Rescue firefighters came to her class Wednesday to reward all of her students for creating — then returning — a fire escape plan with their families.

“They really wanted that ice cream party, so they asked me what should they do,” Gresley recalled, saying that she then offered to send a note home with her students explaining that they might — emphasis on the might — win a party if they all returned a home escape plan.

And sure enough, every kid came back with a plan.

“I was blown away,” Gresley said, adding that as soon as the children learned they were getting a party, every day afterward they asked, “Are the firemen coming today?”

When they finally did come, they were toting a big tub of chocolate chip ice cream and chocolate sprinkles courtesy of the firefighters’ union, Local 2876.

“I pick up the ice cream fresh every day on my way over here — that way no one else eats it,” said Battalion Chief Mike Wernet, explaining that if he put it in any of the fire station’s freezers, it would disappear.

And it certainly disappeared Wednesday, though the children were not too absorbed in their treat to ask questions of the firefighters, one of which stopped by each desk to answer their questions face to face.

While most of the “questions” were in fact stories that the children wanted to share with the firemen, one student did what he should do if there was a fire at his house, then the power went out and the phone wouldn’t work.

“If that happens, then you go to your neighbor’s house and call from there,” Wernet said.

Six-year-old Kevin Plummer told Wernet that was exactly what he learned from making his family escape plan — if there’s a fire, you get out of the house and go to your neighbors for help.

“That’s why we have them make these plans,” Wernet said, adding that it was “exceptional” that so many classes had every student return a plan.

“We visited 10 schools and had 14 classes return 100 percent of their plans,” he said, explaining that next week, the firefighters will be serving ice cream to three classes at Manchester Elementary School.

And what happens now if the rest of the classrooms get inspired by seeing the ice cream parties and suddenly turn in all of their escape plans?

Well, Wernet said, “the deadline for turning in the packet was clearly stated in the packet we sent home.” However, he said SKFR may do a similar program next year.

“I think we will do this again — it was a good experience for everybody,” Wernet said, adding that the children also discovered 20 inoperative smoke detectors while creating the plans. “That could potentially save a life.”

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