Teaching respect, responsibility

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By Tris DeRoma

It’s Wednesday afternoon, and for most sixth graders at Chamisa Elementary, the school day is almost over. However, for students Heather Willbanks and Maya Ceniceros, it’s not quite quitting time. 


With fluorescent orange vests and stops signs in hand, the students head out to their assigned crosswalks to help their fellow students safely cross the street, all under the watchful eye of Chamisa teacher and librarian Beverly Baker.

Willbanks and Ceniceros are just one of many students in the Los Alamos Public School District to take part in the district’s student crossing guard program, a program designed to teach safety and responsibility. 

“With this program, I see nothing but good,” Baker said. “It teaches them responsibility, community leadership and gives them a connection to their school as well.”

Started about 2½ years ago, many students at Chamisa as well as other schools in the district have been through the program, which is taught by officers in the Los Alamos Police Department. 

Cpl. Joey Robinson is one of the Chamisa program’s teachers. According to Robinson, Chamisa has more active participants than most schools.

“Chamisa has a lot more walking traffic; there’s a lot more students that get picked up and dropped off there too,” Robinson said.

Training consists of teaching the students what their duties and responsibilities are and how to do the job, Robinson added.

He also said the students that sign up for the task take their job of protecting their fellow students from vehicle traffic pretty seriously.

“They were real anxious to get out there and do it, have some fun as well as take on some responsibility,” Robinson said.

Students that take the class are also taught how to read traffic and respect vehicles in the road.

“It teaches them to focus on the kids and getting them across the roads safely. Most of the class is about paying attention, being safe, why they always need to have their vests on, how to use their stop signs and when to stop traffic,” Robinson said.

The class usually takes about 20 minutes and takes place with Robinson out in front of the school.

Ceniceros said she likes the job because it “teaches responsibility and you’re trusted by people.” 

Willbanks said one of the reasons she signed up was because her sister was also a crossing guard at Chamisa and she told Willbanks it was a pretty responsible job to have.

 “It’s also fun,” she said, adding that the job allows her to “wear bright things and cross the street.”