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John Townsend
Public Relations Manager, DC
O: (202) 481-6820 (ext. 4462108)
C: (202) 253-2171

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Thursday, October 22, 2020) ––Imagine Peehu Gangwani’s absolute surprise when her parents and family held a special awards ceremony in the family’s home to present her with the Outstanding AAA School Safety Patrol Award for the 2019-2020 school year. Peehu was all smiles. The award honors AAA School Safety Patrollers, like Peehu Gangwani, who excel in the areas of leadership, dependability, and service to others. At that time Peehu was a fifth grader and a Captain of the AAA School Safety Patrol squad at McNair Elementary School in Herndon, Virginia.

Peehu’s defining moment unfolded as the AAA School Safety Program is celebrating its 100th year as the largest school-based safety program in the world. Like many K-12 schools across the Washington metro area, and in Fairfax County, classrooms at McNair Elementary (K-2) and McNair Upper (3-6) have been closed since last March in the wake of the on-going novel coronavirus pandemic. When graduation ceremonies, gatherings, proms, soirées, and rites of passage aplenty were abruptly upended by the coronavirus pandemic last spring and into early summer, many families and friends rather creatively found unprecedented ways to celebrate watershed events, such as socially-distanced “drive-by” and “drive-through” celebrations.

The Gangwani family held the AAA awards presentation in their home in Fairfax County. During the in-home celebration, family members acknowledged Peehu’s accomplishments and also surprised her with a Visa gift card and commemorative award of merit plaque via a special delivery from AAA. Today, Peehu Gangwani is currently a 6th grade student enrolled at McNair Elementary School in Herndon. Like so many AAA School Safety Patrollers across the area in Zoom classrooms, she is engaged in distance learning.

As a sign of the times, the faculty and staff at the McNair Elementary School hosted a socially- distancing end-of -year (EOY) celebration and awards ceremony for the student body via Google Meet. McNair Elementary School boasts a student body of nearly 1,400 pupils and a coterie of nearly 80 AAA School Safety Patrols. Of note, Peehu is one of a number of students at McNair Elementary School nominated for the Outstanding AAA School Safety Patrol of the Year award.

“During the virtual ceremony, we saluted every member of the AAA School Safety Patrol, and thanked them for their hard work, dedication and service to others this year as Safety Patrols,” remarked Kristen Luck, a Health and Physical Education teacher, and AAA School Safety Patrol sponsor at McNair Elementary School. “Students and Patrol advisors and sponsors who give their time and energy to make the AAA School Safety Patrol a success are encouraged and supported by school officials, parent-teacher groups, police departments and AAA clubs.”

Nearly 10,000 patrollers answer the roll call in the AAA School Safety Patrol program in 274 Virginia elementary schools. The McNair Elementary end-of-year- celebration was held at the traditional end of the 2019-2020 school year. During that ceremony, McNair Elementary also recognized its first year Safety Patrols, 6th grade Safety Patrols, Safety Patrols captains, plus its two years of service Safety Patrols, Outstanding School Safety Patrol (OSSP) nominations, and then OSSP Award winner Peehu Gangwani. “Peehu is a leader who helps make sure that the preschoolers and kindergarten students make it safely on and off the bus,” noted Ms. Luck. “She assisted students with two bus safety evacuation drills this school year.”

“Peehu has shown great leadership qualities as a safety patroller at McNair for two years,” remarked Ms. Luck. “She is positive, polite, reliable, and patient. This school year she earned the job of being a captain. Peehu is always on time, shows kindness to all, and is responsible and respected by her fellow peers. Peehu also became one of the first Fourth Grade bus safety patrols to be selected ever at McNair Elementary last year.” 

Although the 2019-2020 academic year was interrupted, and classrooms were shuttered amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, AAA is recognizing and honoring the valiant efforts of the brave young School Safety Patrol. In September, Cortlynn Graham, a AAA Safety Patrol, was awarded the 2020 Lifesaving Medal in a socially distancing event on the school grounds of Strawberry Knoll Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland. A local hometown hero, Cortlynn Graham, is one of four students in the whole of the United States to receive the prestigious Lifesaver Award for the 2019-2020 academic school year. Cortlynn is currently a 6th grade student enrolled at the Gaithersburg Middle School in Montgomery County, Maryland.

AAA knows that there are many Patrollers among our schools who deserve recognition for their efforts to improve the safety of their schools and communities. The outstanding honorees include: 

2019-2020 Outstanding AAA School Safety Patroller

Aoife Cahill

Campbell Elementary School

Arlington, Virginia

Igham Hosendorf

William B Wade Elementary School

Waldorf, Maryland

Peehu Gangwani

McNair Elementary School

Herndon, Virginia

Catherine Kochenash

St. Timothy Catholic School

Chantilly, Virginia

Savonne Clark

Washington Mill Elementary School

Alexandria, Virginia

Valeria Lian Alvarado

Canterbury Woods Elementary School

Annandale, Virginia


Saron Abraham

East Silver Spring Elementary School

Silver Spring, Maryland

Ben Hinckley

St. Pius X Regional School

Bowie, Maryland

Kiera John Lewis

GE Peters Adventist School

Adelphi, Maryland


Upon the 100th anniversary of its School Safety Program, AAA is proud to recognize Peehu Gangwani, and eight other local students, as 2020 AAA Outstanding School Safety Patrol members, as well as Cortlynn Graham, who was awarded AAA’s most prestigious national award for saving the life of an unattended toddler. For a century now, AAA Mid-Atlantic has sponsored and provided major grant support for the AAA School Safety Patrol Program by supplying grants, training materials, and patrol equipment, including the familiar AAA School Safety Patrol badge and belt.

To this day, the school staff at McNair Elementary School in Herndon has so many positive things to say about Peehu, especially about her kindness and leadership skills on the bus and in the classroom. “Peehu is a team player, and she works with other patrols and the bus driver to keep students safe at all times,” adds Ms. Luck. “Peehu demonstrates great leadership skills, she exceeds in the classroom and is always learning and looking for ways to help.” Thank you Peehu for your service to your school and your community, salutes AAA.



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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and nearly 82,000 members in the District of Columbia.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit

TEDx Wilmington Salon

Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, AAA and TEDx Wilmington held the first TEDx Salon dedicated to ideas worth spreading in transportation.

This event had:

  • 12 live talks given by 13 speakers
  • 368 people in attendance at the live event
  • More than 7,500 viewed the event online through Livestream, viewing events, and on the AAA Associate network
  • Online viewers came from all 50 states and approximately 30 countries around the world

View a slideshow from the event

This TEDx WilmingtonSalon was organized in partnership with AAA

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