HILLSDALE, N.J. — Third-grader Anselm Park looked overwhelmed and happy when Hillsdale police drove him to Ann Blanche Smith School Tuesday morning.
He wasn’t in trouble. Quite the opposite.
“Keep up the good work,” said his driver, Patrolman Corey Rooney, shaking Park’s hand.
Park is the first student to get a lift in the district’s new Hillsdale Police Ride to School Program.
He was chosen because he did a good deed.
“I brought down my friend’s lunchbox,” Park said, quietly.
Anyone can nominate a student for doing a good deed as part of the school’s “Caught with Character” program, according to Principal Angela Iskenderian.
Park was nominated by his teacher, Sara Coats.
The name of each nominated student is written on a paper fish and posted on a board outside the main office under the words “Caught in the Act of Being Good,” explained Allen Saslowsky, guidance counselor.
“Then we draw a name out of a hat,” Saslowsky said, “and the winner gets a police escort to come to school one day.”
Only third- and fourth-graders are eligible to participate, Saslowsky said, because only students who are at least eight years old and weigh at least 80 pounds can ride in a police car.
Starting now, one child per month will get that special ride to school. Police will pick them up at their homes.
The program is the brainchild of Hillsdale Councilman Anthony DeRosa, who saw on Facebook that a municipality in another state was doing it.
“I know our police department is great with community relations,” DeRosa said, “and it welcomed the idea.”
Chief Robert Francaviglia approached the Ann Blanche Smith School, which was receptive.
Meadowbrook School in the borough is now also interested in participating in Hillsdale Police Ride To School Program, DeRosa said.