Sixth-grader Max Klein to throw out first pitch at Comerica Park on June 27 before Tigers-Rangers game

RICHMOND — Max Klein is used to taking the mound. But he’ll soon be pitching before thousands of spectators.

A pitcher on his youth baseball team in Capac, the sixth-grader at St. Augustine School in Richmond was named the Michigan AAA School Safety Patroller of the Year, and, along with the accolades, a chance to throw the first pitch at Comerica Park.

Max was recognized by AAA before school was dismissed for the summer, when members of the association recognized him during a school Mass.

“I found out the day they announced the award at Mass before school,” Max told Detroit Catholic. “I didn’t know I got picked. I wrote the essay a month ago, and I was going to ask my supervisor that day if she had any news. And I was really nervous, shaking, when I found out I won. I was shocked that it happened.”

About a month ago, St. Augustine fifth-grade teacher and school safety patrol supervisor Michele Grifka asked Max and another student to write an essay about what they have learned as a school safety patroller for AAA’s statewide school contest.

“We had to write an essay of responsibilities and how we gained leadership from being on safety patrol,” Max said. “I included how I became more aware of my surroundings and became better as the year went on. How I got more responsible.”

Max joined the safety patrol when he was in the fifth grade and said he plans to remain on the patrol throughout his time at the K-8 school.

“I just wanted to be involved in stuff around the school, and it sounded fun,” Max said. “We move cones to areas that are restricted, so people don’t go there. We make sure people are safe crossing the parking lot, telling those in cars where to go for pickup and to follow the rules. The best part about being involved is knowing you can help.”

After Mass, AAA field sales manager Bill Mazzola and AAA public affairs specialist Gary Bubar presented Max with a full-color granite plaque along with Detroit Tigers tickets to the June 27 game against the Texas Rangers, where Max will throw out the first pitch.

Max also received an award signed by the local state representative and state senator and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer along with a AAA bag, which included an umbrella and mugs and a special safety patroller hat and belt Max can use next year on the safety patrol.

The school also received an ice cream treat to celebrate Max’s accomplishment and $100 worth of AAA school safety patrol materials.

“Our parking lot can be crazy after school, and Max is our top safety patroller who stops kids from running in front of cars and stopping cars from moving by putting his hands up, walking over and talking to the parents on where to move,” Grifka said. “He’s always on time, a top-notch, on-the-ball patroller who does a great job.”

Grifka added Max was also chosen because of his grades and behavior and the respect he shows others at St. Augustine.

“He pays attention and does what he is supposed to do as a safety patroller,” Grifka said. “We have 15 safety patrollers between fifth and eight grade, and Max is always there to volunteer and takes pride in being a safety patroller.”

Along with baseball, Max also said he plays basketball and football and loves tinkering around with building blocks and drawing sketches.

“It feels really great and really weird to get recognized for this,” Max said. “I feel proud of what I have done. I think the best part is just being recognized in front of the school.”


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