School crossing guards Marilyn Anthony, Cori Christian, Evelyn Romulus and Jennifer Williams have a message for those who drive through the busy Cruz Bay intersection near Julius E. Sprauve School — slow down! These four women, who stand ready and waiting to assist any student or pedestrian at the crosswalks near the school, have seen their fair share of irresponsible drivers.
“People don’t obey traffic laws a lot of the time,” said Christian, who has been on the job for six months. “If somebody wants to cross, let them cross.”
“Slow down, and be cautious,” added Romulus, a school crossing guard for four years.
Romulus also advised residents not to overtake a vehicle letting a child out at the JESS annex. Drivers in the intersection are approaching a school zone and should travel at 10 miles per hour or less, according to Anthony, who’s been on the job for 18 years.
“Have a little patience,” said Anthony.
Spotless Safety Record
The school crossing guards, who assist pedestrians on Centerline Road near JESS and at the tennis courts where students wait for the bus, have a spotless record when it comes to keeping St. John’s students and other pedestrians safe. A scary close call last year highlighted the need for drivers to slow down.
An out of control dump truck sped through the crosswalk used frequently by students to get from the annex to JESS’ main building in March 2007, and sideswiped a Suzuki, sending the car across the sidewalk and through the Winston Wells ball field fence. Thanks to a special test JESS students were taking that day, no pedestrians were injured.
“The children were having a test, which is why they weren’t in the street,” said Williams, a school crossing guard for four years. “It happened at the exact time the fourth graders usually cross. For us, it was pretty scary.”
A typical day for the crossing guards begins at 7 a.m., lasts eight hours, and is “hectic, with kids crossing all the time,” according to Romulus. The women help everyone — not just students — traverse the Cruz Bay crosswalks, and their post at the Winston Wells ball field bleachers welcomes an unexpected job responsibility — giving tourists directions.
“We give tourists directions to places like the beach and the barge,” said Romulus. “I like helping people in general. Because we’re wearing a uniform, most people feel safe asking us directions.”
“We’re like tourist directors,” Anthony added.
The crossing guards also help direct traffic when the intersection gets busy, explained Williams. Despite long hours outdoors in all weather from hot sun to blowing rain, not one of the crossing guards could think of a bad thing to say about their jobs. However, none of the ladies hesitated when asked about their favorite part of the job.
“I love the kids,” said Anthony. “That’s our first priority. Sometimes they come sad, or they come glad, and I know the difference and try to cheer them up.”
“We are here for the benefit of the children, to make sure they are safe,” added Romulus.
Williams also enjoys interacting with the public, while Christian loves working on St. John.
The crossing guards also receive their fair share of help, for which they are grateful, explained Williams.
“We want to thank Celso Principal at Caneel Bay, who had some stop signs specially made for us while we were waiting on our V.I. Police Department-issue signs,” she said. “And we also thank VIPD Sgt. Roselyn Jarvis, who just took over our unit. She’s given us all the supplies that we need.”
The most important message the women hope to convey to the public is for traffic to slow down in Cruz Bay, and for drivers to respect the crossing guards when they are helping people cross the street. JESS can continue to be safe for students if everyone follows the rules, explained Christian.
“There are rules and laws here which you should respect and obey,” she said.
The crossing guards advised residents to travel slowly when passing JESS and to come to a complete stop when anyone is in the crosswalk. Once all pedestrians have completely cleared the crosswalk, drivers should look to the crossing guards for the okay to proceed.