Safety first: Tyler Run crossing guard honored
Early last year, Tyler Run Elementary School student Jack Hiltner heard a news story on the radio about several students who were hit by a car while crossing the street.
"I didn't want that to happen to anybody else," he said.
Jack, 11, had seen older kids at his school help students cross the street before and after class as crossing guards in the Tyler Run Safety Patrol. He joined, hoping to help keep his friends and classmates safe.
Last month, he became one of just 10 students in Ohio to be inducted into the AAA School Safety Patrol Hall of Fame for 2012. He was chosen from among nearly 6,000 safety patrollers in the state after being nominated by Ryan Vogel, physical education teacher and Tyler Run's Safety Patrol adviser.
Jack was honored alongside fellow inductees at a special luncheon last month at Huntington Park in downtown Columbus. Afterward, the honorees walked the bases before a Columbus Clippers game.
Since joining the group in January 2011, Jack has worked Monday through Friday every other week as a crossing guard before and after school.
With a neon-green sash and flag in hand, he watches for traffic, keeps classmates from standing too close to the curb and guides students to cross the street when the way is clear.
He is reliable, cautious and highly alert, which is why he stood out among the school's crossing guards, Vogel said.
"We look for kids who are responsible and reliable. Jack is always alert, on time and ready to be helpful," he said.
Dependability is a key quality of any good crossing guard, Jack said. Safety Patrol members have to be at their stations, situated at nearby crosswalks, on time every day to help kids cross the street.
Crossing guards have to show up at school early and stay later than other students to perform their jobs.
If they miss a day of school, they have to alert the Safety Patrol team so a substitute can be found quickly.
Tyler Run's Safety Patrol had 17 members this year. Only fourth- and fifth-graders can join.
Fourth-graders spend weeks training and learning from their fifth-grade counterparts, then must complete a written test before they officially take their posts.
Jack said he embraced the new responsibilities and never took his job as a crossing guard lightly.
"A good safety patroller is reliable and trustworthy. They always show up on time," he said. "And you can't be goofing off or acting silly. This is a serious job."
Crossing guards work every day, rain or shine, except on days when the temperature drops below 20 degrees.
Even on wet, cold days, Jack didn't mind.
"Somebody has to do it," he said. "If I'm not out there, someone could get seriously hurt."
Middle schools don't have crossing guards, but Jack said he's looking forward to new challenges next year as a sixth-grader at Liberty Middle School.