By Mary O’KEEFE
In the never-ending fight to keep pedestrians safe, especially students walking to school, the crossing guard has been a powerful weapon.
Praises have been heaped on these local heroes who brave texting teen drivers, rushed parents and absent-minded business people as they step into the treacherous waters otherwise known as the school crosswalk.
Crossing guards are a staple at elementary schools but a couple of moms, school staff and a Crescenta Valley Town Council member thought there needed to be this type of safety net for kids at Rosemont Middle School.
“The [crossing guard was needed] because of the nature of middle schoolers – their unique ability that whatever they are involved in they are involved in 100%. So if they are in a text message or a conversation, they are very involved,” said Rosemont Principal Cynthia Livingston. Consequently, oftentimes middle school students are not aware of the traffic around them.
A year ago, a middle school student who was paying attention and in the proper crosswalk, was struck by a vehicle (she was not seriously injured). Because of that event, along with several close calls, a group of concerned citizens was able to convince the county to hire a crossing guard for Rosemont Middle School. This is unusual because crossing guards in Los Angeles County were only cleared for elementary schools. But thanks to Los Angeles Supervisor Michael Antonovich, a one-year pilot-type program was started at Rosemont.
Now a year later, the guard has changed the entire traffic structure near the middle school. Principal Livingston said local residents have told her how the traffic has lessened on Rosemont Avenue and the surrounding area.
“Instead of kids crossing [at the Rosemont crosswalk] one or two at a time, Mario [the crossing guard] holds the kids until there are about 20 and sometimes [more before releasing them],” Livingston said. This allows traffic to flow at a regular rate.
In March, a proposal that would allow all schools within the unincorporated area of L.A. County to request a crossing guard in needed areas will be presented to the L.A. County board of supervisors.
“If [residents] could write a letter of support for the crossing guard, I am sure it will make a difference,” said Robbyn Battles, Crescenta Valley Town Council president.
That two parents – Michele Doud and Kelly Ralston – with Battles, Livingston and assistant principal Ron Sowers, worked to help bring change that will now affect the entire County is noteworthy.
Battles shares credit with support from the California Highway Patrol and Dept. of Public Works and Dean Lehman, assist. deputy director with the County of Los Angeles.
But it came down to Antonovich listening to community members who knew there was a need and was concerned for their children’s safety.
Letters of support must be addressed to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, Kenneth Hahn, Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple Street, Ste 383, L.A., CA 90012 or can be emailed to Robbyn Battles at firstname.lastname@example.org.