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Redwood Bark

Photo Essay: Boys’ varsity tennis sweeps Archie Williams in MCAL semifinals
Photo Essay: Boys’ varsity tennis sweeps Archie Williams in MCAL semifinals
Molly Gallagher April 18, 2024

On Wednesday, April 17, the boys’ varsity tennis team dominated their match against Archie Williams in the semi-finals of the Marin County...

Photo Essay: Girls’ varsity lacrosse dominates Branson in a sentimental senior day matchup
Photo Essay: Girls’ varsity lacrosse dominates Branson in a sentimental senior day matchup
Emma Rosenberg and Penelope Trott April 18, 2024

On April 18, the girls’ varsity lacrosse team battled against the Branson Bulls in a blowout senior day matchup. Prior to the start of...

 embracing his coach senior Auden Braden celebrates his final MCAL regular season game
Boys’ volleyball dominates Marin Catholic on Senior Night
Richard Byrne April 18, 2024

On April 17th, the boys’ varsity volleyball team faced off against Marin Catholic (MC) in a Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) game. The...

Beyond the crosswalk: the effect of crossing guards on community safety and the lives they touch

A run to the park, a morning walk to school, a quick trip across the street to the grocery store. During these daily activities, you may find yourself greeted with a nod, a simple smile or a friendly wave from the unsung heroes in yellow, our local crossing guards. 

Crossing guards, while they may feel like strangers to us, are often our first interactions of the day. Despite our brief exchanges, for many, the presence of these individuals has had a significant impact on our lives. But have we ever taken the time to think about the untold backgrounds and stories that these crossing guards may carry with them across the road?

According to local Tiburon crossing guard Dale Zelmon, most crossing guards in the area got into the job after retiring or becoming unemployed. Most guards work a morning shift of one to two hours and then come back for the afternoon shift. This way, they are stationed when a large rush of kids comes from school. For Zelmon, this influx of youth is what makes his job so fulfilling. 

“I like talking to the kids because I remember that age so vividly,” Zelmon said.

Zelmon is a retired retail manager and has been working as a crossing guard for one year, helping kids cross mainly from Del Mar Middle School and Reed Elementary School. Zelmon reflects on the meaningful interactions he has had with both children and adults while working his job. 

One time, these young kids made a small stop sign, like mine, and brought it when they walked across the street,” Zelmon said. 

Students from Del Mar Middle School safely bike home, assisted by crossing guard John Cheney.

Zelmon notes that often, it is those small acts from individuals that bring the most joy to his job. For instance, at the end of each year, some parents will bring gifts to the crossing guards to thank them for their efforts in keeping their children safe. This past year, the superintendent from Reed Elementary School brought Zelmon a gift for his service. Being acknowledged for his hard work is something that Zelmon deeply appreciates. 

John Cheney has been working as a crossing guard for 15 years, initially crossing students from Bacich Elementary School and now working at Ross School. Cheney grew up in Millbrae, Calif., just south of Marin County, and attended the University of California Berkeley. Before becoming a crossing guard, he was a mailman for 31 years. Cheney is well known in the Ross and Kentfield communities for saying, “Have a marvelous/magnificent/magical Monday, tremendous Tuesday, wonderful Wednesday, thrilling Thursday and fantastic/fabulous Friday!” 

Cheney’s positivity has been uplifting the community for years, and any Ross or Bacich graduate will remember these sayings forever.

“I had a girl come in that I didn’t recognize 10 or 15 years later. She met me at Bacich, but she’s actually graduated from college, and now she’s teaching [at] College of Marin. She remembered all my sayings for the day,” Cheney said. 

Like Cheney, Zelmon also enjoys the small exchanges he shares with citizens crossing the street. However, he notes that his days are sometimes tedious and lack interaction. 

“Rain or shine, I am here,” Zelmon said. “But, it [can be] pretty mundane because there is not much interaction sometimes. It takes about 10 seconds to come across, so if [people] aren’t stuck [on the sidewalk], I hardly talk to them.”

Ms. Evie, another Tiburon crossing guard, enjoys seeing the regulars that she consistently crosses across the street daily. 

“I meet all types of people. I like to see the mothers and the fathers and the kids. Some of them you see every day and others you see once in a while,” Evie said. “I’ve developed relationships with the regulars, even the dogs who I recognize… a lot of times, I can’t remember their names, but I do know them by their faces.” 

Wearing a bright yellow vest, Ms. Evie stands at the intersection of Trestle Glen in Tiburon, Calif.

Evie got her job while living at the local senior center, and since has been handling a very busy intersection between Tiburon Boulevard and a perpendicular street, Trestle Glen. Evie has observed numerous instances of danger at the intersection while working, including individuals mindlessly running red lights, young children not paying attention and dogs causing harm to others. 

While the job can bring chaos and stress of danger, crossing guards actually appreciate the consistency of the routine that has been given to them. Cheney gets to work 20 minutes early each day to do his morning exercises, which include 200 squats, a four-minute plank and stretching. He wears shorts every day, no matter the weather, crediting breathing exercises and regular ice baths to keep him from getting cold. 

David Houston works at the crosswalk by Ross School at the intersection of Shady Lane, Lagunitas Road, Allen Avenue and Dewitt Drive. He’s been a crossing guard for three years and was an architect before that. He learned about this job from a mountain biking friend. 

“I started off as a fill-in crossing guard. So I went from Tiburon to Novato at different corners. It was kind of fun; it gave me variety. But this corner is busy enough that you actually feel like you’re doing something [unlike] certain corners where you get no traffic at all, like five kids in an hour,” Houston said. 

Each morning, leaving for school, we see a single, dependable crossing guard. We always give them a smile and sometimes a wave and then continue on with our day. Just this year, we have probably had even a slight interaction with this person over 100 times. However, this small exchange always brings a smile to our faces, and it is a proper reflection of the power our local crossing guards possess. 

Relationships with our local crossing guard are what we may call “casual friendships.” According to Robert J. Waldinger and Marc Schulz’s book, The Good Life, “Casual friendships may be the most overlooked relationships we have. They neither take up the most time nor impact our lives in the most obvious ways … These are the relationships we may not turn to when we’re in distress, but that nonetheless provides us with jolts of good feeling or energy during our days, as well as a sense of connection to larger communities.”

If you walked to school as a child or even walked to the nearby bus station, you likely have passed the same crossing guard hundreds of times, whether you realized it or not. And while many of us may not have taken the time to say thank you or offer them a smile, their presence provided a great deal of consistency and security to our daily lives. They might have been your casual friend dressed in yellow.

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About the Contributors
Erica Block
Erica Block, Layout Editor
Erica is a senior at Redwood High School and is a layout editor for the Bark. She enjoys listening to music, traveling and watching sunsets with her friends.
Charlotte Fishburne
Charlotte Fishburne, Head Copy Editor
Charlotte Fishburne is a senior at Redwood High School and is a head copy editor for the Bark. In her free time, she enjoys rowing, spending time with friends and being outdoors.