Jordan Ridge Elementary crossing guards aim to serve their community
Feb 01, 2018 03:42PM
● By Julie Slama
Jordan Ridge crossing guards Steve Airmet and Carrie Condie help students cross the street safely to school. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
There wasn’t snow piled knee-high, but a sharp wind cut across the faces of some students as they walked to school. The sky lacked its clear blue as an inversion kept temperatures cold.
Yet, like many of their peers, Jordan Ridge crossing guards Carrie Condie and Steve Airmet spent about an hour that January morning making sure students, staff and families safely crossed the busy intersection of 2700 West and 9800 South.
It’s what they do every school morning and again, for about an hour every afternoon.
“I don’t consider it a job,” said Condie, who has been crossing students since the mid-1990s. “It’s a service to the community, to the kids. It’s what I do, like eating breakfast or making my bed. It’s about the kids.”
For Airmet, it’s a chance to get out of the house now that he’s retired.
“I want to do something for someone, not just sit around,” he said. “It’s a good job because I like kids, and it’s fun to talk to the parents.”
While both crossing guards say they know a lot of the students’ names, they know more than that. Condie will watch students as they approach and leave the school area, making sure they are safe as long as they are in her sight. Airmet knows some stories of the students, including one student’s brother was born on the same day as his father.
That student is third-grader Tori Piacitelli.
“I like how they can keep me safe when I’m crossing at their crosswalk,” she said.
Tori’s dad, Jeff, appreciates their keen awareness.
“It’s wonderful knowing that they’re watching after these kids,” he said. “When Tori had choir before school, they mentioned they hadn’t seen her in a while, so they’re aware of who is crossing.”
Office staff member Jana Buck regularly crosses with them each day.
“It’s great that they’re always in tune to what is going on and smile, compliment you and greet you by name,” she said. “It’s a great way to start the day — mine and everyone else’s.”
Buck, who worked along with Principal Melissa Beck, submitted their names on behalf of the school to KSL’s High Five award, with which they were honored this past fall. Condie and Airmet, along with Diane Stemmons, who works at the school in between crossing at Elk Meadows and Elk Ridge schools, were recognized.
But Condie quickly says it’s not the recognition, but it’s the kids that keep their focus.
“We’re here for the kids and want to keep them safe,” she said.
She said with multiple corners to cross students, it’s critical that she and her fellow crosser are on the same page.
“When kids come out of school all at one time, it’s a constant 15 minutes of crossing of 50 or more kids,” she said. “We have more cars as they’re picking up kids plus cars coming from the junior high and high school. We’re responsible for keeping everyone safe. We need to rely on each other to cover our backs.”
Besides Airmet, Condie has crossed with other guards, including Lisa Whittaker for six years and Becky Schuelke for eight years, who is now crossing at Elk Meadows and Elk Ridge schools.
Condie, who, like other crossing guards, has had several part-time jobs and a full-time job in in addition to her crossing guard position, said early on, her salary helped support her sons and husband to attend the national Boy Scout jamboree. Now, she continues for the students, some which are kids of parents she crossed.
“There’s a lot more volume of traffic,” she said. “It used to be on 2700 (West), but UTA changed its bus route, so now it’s on 9800 (South). We used to cross kindergartners, but not anymore. The crosswalk changed; there’s a brand-new light, and traffic patterns change. Usually as school starts, everyone is walking, but then it fades away. There’s more walking in the afternoon, but kids are dropped off more in these cold mornings.”
While she admits crossing in the cold wind is “the worst,” the best days are when kids simply say “thank you.”
“It warms your heart when they say ‘thank you,’” she said. “We have wonderful parents here. Once in a while, we get little gifts, food, gift cards and candy. On Dec. 1, we got three cups of hot chocolate. It means a lot to know that someone cares and appreciates you.”