Crossing guard tradition expands
By Tim Linscott
The safety of children has long been a goal of the volunteers who act as crossing guards for Perkins County youth every school year and an added measure started last week.
Dave Mendyk, husband of the pastor at the United Methodist Church in Grant, noticed a lot of traffic at the elementary school and thought it appropriate to add a guard to the front of the school.
Last year Mendyk helped with the after school program, Wonderful Wednesdays, at the Methodist Church and saw first-hand how busy the elementary school was with traffic.
“Seeing the double parking was kind of scary. Cars on both sides and then someone would park in the middle,” Mendyk said, deciding to move forward in volunteering. “My dad told me, ‘See the need, meet the need.’”
Traditionally, guards stand at the corner of Fourth and Central streets to help children cross the highway. Mendyk hopes the added guard at the elementary will help remind parents to keep a keen eye out for youngsters and that area residents slow down.
A dilemma downtown guards have been having in recent years has been students circumventing their presence. Guards believe kids are doing this as a means of grabbing a snack before or after school at one of the two convenience stores or avoid the crossing guards because they feel they be too old to be helped across the street.
The crossing guard program started in 2001 when a group of volunteers decided to step forward after seeing children cross busy downtown streets.
Kris Long was the first organizer of the program and decided to take action after seeing ‘a lot of commotion downtown after school.’
“I was sitting at the post office one day and saw trucks flying by on the highway and people coming and going out of the post office to get their letters mailed about the same time the kids were reaching that corner and decided something needed to be done,” Long said.
She explained the sheriff’s office has been ‘100 percent’ behind the project and very supportive over the years with the program, from providing signs to parking in the area to make their presence known.
According to Mendyk lines for a crossing could be painted at the elementary eventually and if more upper-classmen begin attending Perkins County Elementary, a crossing guard program could be established.
“I can only cover about half a block,” Mendyk said.
There is a need for more volunteers before and after school at the elementary. Mendyk explained that there have been many smiles of appreciation from parents but not many have come forward to volunteer. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Mendyk at the Methodist Church.
Times in the morning are from 7:30-7:50 a.m. and in the afternoon from 3:30-3:50 p.m., except on Fridays when school dismisses at 2:30 p.m.
Guards help students every fall until the time change (Nov. 3 this year) and start back up in the spring (April).
“People have been appreciative and happy someone is there on the job,” Mendyk said.