By Brandi Makuski
“This is our duck-catcher,” said Ben Schultz, Stevens Point firefighter/paramedic, holding up a large fishing net. “We use this to scoop up ducks when they get stuck in a storm sewer.”
Schultz had a captive audience on Oct. 27, when an excited group of first and second graders squealed with delight over the sight of tools, fire trucks and ambulance equipment at Fire Station No. 1. But this wasn’t just any group of touring students — these were poster contest winners: their tour came with pizza, ice cream and a ride inside a firetruck.
The 11 students came from Jefferson, St. Paul’s, St. Stan’s and Stevens Point Christian Academy elementary schools. Their hand-drawn posters adorned the walls of the fire department on Franklin Street.
This year’s theme was “Don’t Wait — Check the Date”, referencing regular replacement of smoke detector batteries, which firefighters recommend be done every six months.
“We’re down a little bit this year, not as many students as past years,” said Victor Kedrowski, motor pump operator for SPFD. “We send the letters out to teachers at all the schools, but it’s up to the teachers whether or not they want to participate.”
Kedrowski said the department holds the contest annually as a way to be interactive with local students. The contest winners are picked up from their respective schools and driven to the station in a firetruck.
“It’s a way to get the kids involved, instead of us just coming into the schools and talking about it,” Kedrowski said. “And, of course, the kids like riding in the trucks.”
First and second graders, he said, are the perfect target age for the contest because students are mature enough to understand more complicated concepts of fire safety, but still get excited over firetrucks.
A pizza lunch was donated by Pizza Hut, Little Caesers, Toppers, Rocky Rococo, Bill’s Pizza and Politos Pizza. Ice cream cake was donated by Dairy Queen.
Winning students include first-grader Ramsey Johnson from Jefferson Elementary; Gwen Klasinski and Jonas Beranek, both first grade students from St. Paul’s Lutheran School; St. Stan’s students Jaedyn Zdroik, Gus Olszewski and Ryan Alcorta, all second grade students, and first-grader Ada King; and Grayson Meehan and GraceLee Telfer, both in second grade, and first grade students Hadassah Uitenbroek and Jaiden Helbach.