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Safe Anniversary

At first glance, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer and Olympian Bruce Jenner appear to have little in common.

But both have shared at least one experience: As children, each donned a fluorescent orange belt as school safety-patrol members.

This fall, the school safety-patrol program turns 75.

Local American Automobile Association clubs started the patrols to decrease accidents near schools. More than 500,000 students volunteer each year.

AAA says the patrols work: The national pedestrian death rate for children 5 to 14 has decreased from 10.4 per 100,000 in 1935 to 1.4 per 100,000 in 1993.

Since 1949, AAA has rewarded safety-patrol members who have saved a life while on duty. This year's seven winners received an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington last month, where they visited the White House.

Among the honorees were Jarrod A. Stahl, 11, and Adam K. Wagner, 10, from Smith Elementary School in Akron, Ohio. Together, they rescued a 7-year-old boy from an oncoming car that later crashed into a nearby parked car.

"I just reacted instinctively," said Adam, who had only been on the job a few weeks. "I was like, whoa, I can't believe I did that."

Ligers on the Loose

p To paraphrase a popular aphorism: When you're hip-deep in "ligers," it's hard to remember your objective is to teach school.

Ask Rick Nielsen, the principal of Lava Elementary School, who canceled classes and spent several hours late last month cruising the back roads of rural Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, after a pride of ligers--the offspring of lions and tigers--escaped from a privately owned compound adjoining the school playground.

"I spent my morning hours running the bus routes to make sure they were free of children," he said.

Few in the area knew that ligers, wolves, and jackals were bred at the compound. The escape briefly attracted national publicity to the community of about 400 people in the southeastern Idaho mountains.

But a day later, the excitement was over and school reopened.

Mr. Nielsen, who has been the principal at Lava Elementary School only three months, joked with reporters across the country about the incident.

"We've just had a ball with this," he said in an interview. "When we talk about the 'wildlife' in school, somehow we always think we're talking about the kids."

--Meg Sommerfeld & Peter West

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