CHICAGO - The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Archdiocese of Chicago today announced the city’s Crossing Guard of the Year Award in recognition of the important role crossing guards play in helping Chicago children and families travel to and from school safely. During a ceremony at St. Benedict School in North Center, OEMC, CPS and the Archdiocese of Chicago recognized Roxie Calhoun with the second annual Crossing Guard of the Year Award for the 2018-2019 school year. Calhoun’s post is located at the Irving Park Rd. and Leavitt St. intersection, where she safely guides students from Coonley and St. Benedict Elementary Schools during their daily commutes.
“I want to thank Roxie Calhoun and the hundreds of other dedicated crossing guards throughout Chicago who keep a watchful eye on students day after day as they safely travel to and from school,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “By working hand-in-hand with our school communities, we'll ensure our children can remain focused on their education and not their safety."
Roxie Calhoun started with the City on March 26, 1968 and will retire after 51 years of service in June. She has crossed generations of families, and is well known by students, parents and the community. Roxie received 25 percent of the nominations for the award. As one nominator stated, “You know the saying, ‘It takes a village…?’ Well, when you pass by this intersection and watch the children’s reaction to seeing Roxie, you know Roxie is an integral part of this village.”
“We are pleased to partner with our school communities to acknowledge the often-overlooked public safety personnel who – rain, sunshine, severe cold or snow – cheerfully ensure families and students throughout the city can travel to and from school safely every day,” said OEMC Executive Director Rich Guidice. “We also hope the recognition of Roxie and her colleagues will serve to remind motorists to engage in safe driving behavior near schools, and to heed the direction of crossing guards as they cross children and community members during bell times.”
“Crossing guards like Roxie play a vital part in the communities they serve, giving parents peace of mind by keeping our students safe day after day,” said CPS Chief of Safety and Security Jadine Chou. “Whether it is sunny, raining or snowing, crossing guards play an invaluable role in ensuring students are safe and able to stay focused on their education.”
Nationally, approximately 12 percent of students walk or bike to school. Crossing guards help students develop safe pedestrian and bicycling habits, such as looking both ways before crossing roads, navigating intersections and using crosswalks.
“I have had the privilege of knowing the compassionate care Roxie shows each child crossing Irving Park Road over the past 16 years since I’ve been at St. Benedict Prep. We are grateful to our crossing guards like Roxie for ensuring the safety of our student pedestrians,” said Chicago Archdiocese rep/Principal Rachel Gemo. “They are a vital part of helping all of us provide our children with the opportunity to lead healthy, happy lives.”
Roxie was also presented with a Longevity Award at the event. Her colleague Daisy Williams, who has worked for the City as a crossing guard since December 6, 1965 (53 years), was also presented with the Longevity Award this afternoon. Williams is a crossing guard at Whitney Young Elementary School, 2815 S. Komensky.
In addition, the following Crossing Guards received awards for their dedication to duty and excellent service:
2018-2019 Crossing Guard Award of Merit:
• Kathy Borkowski, Carroll-Rosenwald Specialty School at 2929 W. 83rd Street
• Alma Ibarra, Johann W. von Goethe Elementary School at 2236 N. Rockwell Street
• Valerie Charles, Asa Phillip Randolph Elementary School at 7316 S. Hoyne Street
• Maria Cantore, John W. Garvy School at 5225 N. Oak Park Avenue
In 2018, February 14 to March 14 was proclaimed Crossing Guard Appreciation Month in Chicago. As part of these recognition efforts, the City launched a yearly nomination process for Crossing Guard of the Year and invited students, families and school officials to honor the significant role their crossing guards play in keeping school communities safe.
In conjunction with the award, OEMC, Chicago Department of Transportation, CPS and the Chicago Archdiocese also launched the ongoing “Stay Alert, Don’t Get Hurt” public awareness campaign aimed at keeping students and crossing guards safe under the City’s larger Vision Zero Plan for pedestrian safety.
Approximately 450 pedestrians ages eight to 14 are injured in incidents involving a vehicle every year in Illinois. Under the Vision Zero, Chicago is working to eliminate injuries and traffic fatalities by 2026.
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