Studying for the year’s biggest standardized tests can wait, District 26 Superintendent Anita Saunders said.
“This pledge you’re taking is very, very important,” Saunders said to a packed auditorium of wide-eyed youths. “It’s even more important than your ELA and math test.”
Almost all 940 students at the Fresh Meadows school raised their right hand and promised, in unison, to buckle up, be alert and “value the preservation of life above all else” when riding in cars or crossing the street.
The pledge was taken in honor of 3-year-old Allison Liao, who was tragically killed by an SUV in Flushing last October, while crossing Main Street at Cherry Avenue.
“We’re here today because something bad happened to our family,” Allison’s father, Hsi-Pei, said to the students. “She did nothing wrong, and she was holding an adult’s hand.”
The Liaos’ tragedy has aided a local push to stop short-tempered parents from double parking, blocking the school bus stop and letting students run across the street outside of P.S. 173, where Allison’s 5-year-old brother Preston attends.
Nearly 700 parents have signed a driver’s version of the pledge so far, PTA President Italia Augienello said.
Educators hope to hold each to their word.
“Just signing [the pledge] once is not enough,” Saunders said. “We don’t want to have another terrible tragedy.”
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