THIS FLAT STANLEY, made by a student in Kim Jordan’s kindergarten class at Coffin Elementary School, learns from Brunswick Detective Bill Moir that this piece of equipment is called a “total station,” a measuring device used to map crash scenes and crime scenes. Pictured in the background is Lt. Tom Garrpey.

THIS FLAT STANLEY, made by a student in Kim Jordan’s kindergarten class at Coffin Elementary School, learns from Brunswick Detective Bill Moir that this piece of equipment is called a “total station,” a measuring device used to map crash scenes and crime scenes. Pictured in the background is Lt. Tom Garrpey.

BRUNSWICK

FLAT STANLEY helped Brunswick Animal Control Officer Heidi Nielsen relocate a skunk.

FLAT STANLEY helped Brunswick Animal Control Officer Heidi Nielsen relocate a skunk.

Last week, Flat Stanley got to take an Intoxilyzer test, help communications officers take complaints at the Brunswick police station and has been spotted with several members of the department learning all about police work.

Brunswick Police Department has taken its own version of the literacy program into Coffin Elementary School, where the idea exploded after Christmas break.

Flat Stanley is a character based from a 1964 children’s book by Jeff Brown. The Flat Stanley Project was created by Canadian elementary school teacher Dale Hubert as a way to get his students to have fun while reading and writing.

In the book, a bulletin board falls from the wall onto Stanley Lambchop during the night, flattening him in his sleep. So begins his adventures — entering locked rooms by sliding under the door and visiting friends by being mailed in an envelope.

The Flat Stanley Project provides students cutouts of a Flat Stanley. They color it, write a little about him and then mail him to a student at another school or a relative or friend who lives far away. The recipient then mails back photos of Flat Stanley’s adventures.

Brunswick Police Cmdr. Marc Hagan remembers his children participating in the Flat Stanley Project when they attended Williams-Cone School in Topsham. His son gave his Flat Stanley to one of the sergeants at the department to take in his travels for a week. It triggered an idea for the outreach opportunity.

“We’re always trying to think of new and interesting ways to become more involved with the community and especially the kids,” Hagan said.

There was so much interest that instead of getting maybe 50 or 60 Flat Stanleys, there have been more than 300.

The police department adopts a class every week and chooses one Flat Stanley to travel around with officers and have its picture taken. The pictures, along with a group photo of all the Flat Stanleys, get posted on the department’s Facebook page every Friday with descriptions of what Flat Stanley is up to.

The posts have reached a couple thousand people on average.

“We’re getting back out into the community which is what we should be doing,” Hagan said. “It definitely got bigger than I was originally thinking, but that’s great.”

School Resource Officer Tom Stanton is based out of Brunswick Junior High School. He goes into the adopted Coffin classroom of the week to talk about what Flat Stanley did so students understand what police do. He then rolls that into a safety talk about when it is appropriate to use 911 and when students can approach police and ask for help, for example.

He shows them the equipment he carries when he’s on patrol, answers questions, “and try to make a connection and build a relationship with the kids at that point.”

After eight weeks, Flat Stanley has done everything from report writing to being involved in a mock arrest, Stanton said, and the kids love it.

“It gets them engaged and interested and gets me in there to talk to them in uniform,” he said.

“They love seeing him and having him come in,” said kindergarten teacher Kim Jordan. “That’s an important connection.”

Every Monday, she and her students log onto the Brunswick Police Department’s Facebook page to look at the Flat Stanley photos. They get excited that kids at their school have made the Flat Stanleys that police are carrying with them.

“We always want people to be safe and who are the trusted adults in your life that you can go to,” Coffin Elementary School Principal Steve Ciembroniewicz said. “I think a lot of our children, or their families, may not have had positive interaction with police. This is a way to have something 100 percent positive.”

Ciembroniewicz gave kudos to Hagan and Stanton.

“I think some of the brilliance of this is Tom’s follow up in the classroom,” said Ciembroniewicz. “He’s just building that trust. Familiarity and trust.”

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