I can’t remember exactly when I first met Mike Ouwerkerk. I know it was early on in my time here at ACS, 22 years ago. Mike initiated our Grandparent Crossing Patrol.
Back then, there were no houses around our school property and looking out the front of the school you mostly saw a large, sandy hill, with one crescent of houses at the bottom.
Traffic on Old Clayburn Road was not what it is now.
Still, Mike recognized that crossing the street was still a risk for young children. And he wanted them to be safe. Near where the crossing guard vests, stop signs and umbrellas are stored in the Elementary campus, there is a memorial plaque in his honour.
I’m not sure how many crossing guards joined Mike on that first team. I do know there have been numerous ones who have taken his place. For many years, we only had crossing guards in the afternoon. That was the busiest time.
Last year, with the changes in traffic lanes and a few close calls, it became clear that we needed crossing guards in the morning.
Those who served and have served
I wish I could acknowledge all the crossing guards we have had, but I know that my memory would fail me. Some are easier to recall.
John Langelaar would often come in and spend a few minutes (sometimes more) chatting with Elsie, who was Lisa Watson’s predecessor. Hans Maas, would do the same. I remember him asking Elsie why I was so grumpy all the time. That was early on in my days as principal. I have tried harder not to let my concentration show so negatively on my face.
I do want to acknowledge our current crossing guards: Ed Kornelius, Garry Wolters and Karen Woodard each take a morning or two every week; Matt Kwantes (the leader), Bill Mulder (currently our longest serving guard…I think), Bill Kampman, Klaas Vanderwal and the newest recruit, Lin Samplonius.
You will see them out there, rain or shine, keeping a watchful eye on our students and parents and helping them cross safely.
Hugs, Safety and Gratitude
So why do they do it? Well, mostly because safety for our students is as important to them as it is to me or any of you. Most of them have a long connection with ACS and this is one way to stay involved. For some, it’s out of gratitude for what ACS has been for their grandchildren.
And there are little perks. Ed gets a hug from his granddaughter when she comes by. There is the recognition that parents have come to trust them. One parent will walk part way with her child, and when she sees the crossing guard, she gives a wave and lets her child carry on, on her own.
Our crossing guards are another example of how it takes a village to raise a child, and the importance of intergenerational connections. I am so deeply grateful for their willingness to be serve in this way.
So, hats off to them.
We are getting to a time of year when we acknowledge the greatest servant of all and well, we do have a bit of a tradition of honouring those near and dear to us in tangible ways.