Students step up for safety

Posted on: Nov 15, 2017

Two Delano Middle School students have taken it upon themselves to help promote safety for pedestrians on the Delano Public Schools campus.
Justin and Kyra Machakaire, a brother and sister in grades seven and six, respectively, now don traffic vests and wield a “School Stop Patrol” flag as crossing guards almost every morning and afternoon at the entrance to the bus parking lot on the north side of the high school-middle school building.
“Unless we’re sick or have something else we have to do, we’re pretty much there every day,” said Justin.
That includes bad weather days. On Friday, Nov. 3, the Machakaires took their 15- to 20-minute afternoon shift amidst heavy snow and a wintry breeze.
“We want to get more kids doing this, because if there are days that me and my sister absolutely can’t do it, then we need other people to step in and take that day and help out,” said Justin. “Who knows, the day we’re not there an accident could happen.”
DMS Principal Barry Voight explained that the crosswalk that leads from the school up the hill toward the elementary and a large student parking area needs more attention this year than most, because while buses formerly entered there and then exited the other direction around the school, construction this year means that buses are both entering and exiting, along with private vehicles.
“We needed to really focus on student safety there this year,” Voight said. “We’ve always had somebody at the intersection at the end of the day, but never in the morning before school. With more students parking at the top of the hill, there is a greater need to control traffic and students.”
Though the middle school has not used student crossing guards in the past, Voight said the Machakaires approached him early in the school year for permission to take up the task. They explained that the idea came from their summer participation in Legionville, where they were trained as crossing guards and also picked up other skills in water safety, canoe safety, first aid and more.
“The most impressive part is that they’re the ones that sought us out, and it’s always nice to see kids that want to help out and make a difference and volunteer their time,” said Voight. “It was entirely their own initiative that led to this. Had they not come to see me we would have been managing traffic in that intersection all year long without some additional help, just trying to piece together staff to get it done. So they provide some consistency, that’s for sure. We’re grateful for their service.”
District administrators provided some additional training specific to the intersection – giving instructions on where to stand and pointing out that buses have the right-of-way rather than pedestrians, for example. There is often a staff member present also, though Voight pointed out that the students can actually be more consistent at times because they aren’t subject to meetings, parent phone calls and other demands on a teacher’s time.
Both Justin and Kyra said they hope more students will get involved so additional crosswalks around campus can be covered.
“We’ve tried to get a couple of other kids to join. There have been a few who seemed interested, so I’ve been trying to encourage them,” said Kyra. “It’s only one crosswalk that we’re doing. We’d like to cover all the crosswalks.”
Voight said any interested students could visit him to talk about the opportunity and get connected to training.
“The staff and I have talked about that too, because there are certainly more intersections that could use crossing guards up and down Tiger Drive,” he said. “There might be opportunities to grow.”