Students at three Jim Thorpe Area elementary schools recently learned about the importance of being safe.

During the Deputy Phil program on Friday afternoon, kindergarten through third grade students at Penn Kidder Elementary were treated to a puppet and magic show that taught them about computer safety, making smart choices, respect and bullying; as well as learning how to be responsible. The event was sponsored by the Carbon County Sheriff's Department and local businesses and organizations.

Deputy Sheriff Kristy Cummins, one of the hosts, explained before the event, that the program's goal is to educate children about being safe and being aware of their surroundings.

"We want to help the kids be safe," she said.

The program, which has taken place in the Jim Thorpe Area School District for several years, has been a success because the students are excited to learn while being entertained, Cummins noted.

Michael McDade or "Mr. Mike" as he is referred to, added that every year the program has a different theme. This year's theme was bullying and computer strangers.

As the event began, Cummins welcomed the students and introduced over the spotlight to Mr. Mike, who performed magic tricks, hosted a trivia game, and introduced Turbo Turtle, Mac the Mouse and Rockin' Robin puppets, who spoke to the kids about being safe.

During the half-hour program, McDade educated students about respect for themselves and others, seat belt safety, street safety, computer safety and bullying.

He used magic tricks to capture the students' attentions and the students responded by laughing and participating in the demonstrations.

Following the brief magic show, McDade and his puppets entertained the students with short skits and songs.

Students at L.B. Morris Elementary and St. Joseph's Regional Academy have also been treated to the Deputy Phil program recently.

The Deputy Phil program's goal is to educate children about safety, crime prevention, values and responsibility in a way they will understand and remember. It has been in operation for over 30 years. The program is also known as the Officer Phil and Firefighter Phil program, depending on the topic and who is sponsoring the event.

For more information on the program, visit www.officerphil.com.