AAA awards Valley 7th grader safety patrol award

MESA, Ariz. (FOX 10) - A greeting and a smile -- 13-year-old Gerard Gerkin spent every day this school year front and center.

"Basically, what I did was I stood out front and there was a crosswalk and I held the stop sign," he said. "My families cross by and then greeted them with 'good morning' and then I did out back where I just open doors for cars and said 'good morning' and 'have a nice day.'"

A seventh-grader at Christ the King Catholica Church in Mesa, Gerard says he signed up because it seemed like a fun way to interact with people and learn leadership skills, and that's exactly what his teacher, Kevin McCloskey, says happened.

"Gerard is like I said before, responsible, dutiful and does as anything I ask," he said.

McCloskey supervises the program open only to seventh-grade students. He chose Gerard for the award because he stands out.

"Gerard, this is a great accomplishment," he said.

The patrol program has been going strong with AAA for 99 years now and only one student in the state is recognized each year.

"It is an opportunity to develop leaders on campus today and leaders in society for tomorrow and the future," AAA spokeswoman Michelle Donati said.

As Gerard gets ready to pass the vest on to the next group of guards, he also has some advice.

"Just be a leader, don't worry about making mistakes and have fun," he said.