If you're traveling Monday morning or afternoon in Del City, you may see fire trucks with lights flashing parked near schools. Be alert, but don't be alarmed. It's a good thing.
They're there to remind you that school starts Monday for Mid-Del students and motorists should slow down in school zones and watch for children.
Some districts in Oklahoma already opened the 2013-14 school year, while others will be doing so this week or next.
The Del City Fire Department's School Zone Safety Awareness project is in its sixth year. Local officials say students in front of Del City High School, 1900 S Sunnylane Road, have benefitted from improvements to that school zone.
The project, a joint effort between Del City and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, included improving crosswalk markings and lighting. A Del City news release said this area “had been a priority for school zone safety awareness because of the number of students who were involved in auto-pedestrian accidents in the previous years.”
School districts throughout the state work to make things safer for students, which brings me to something that has become an annual effort for me. It's keeping a promise ... a very important one.
You may remember the story about John, a longtime crossing guard for an Oklahoma City elementary school, who first called me back in September 2000.
John stressed, “Give the little ones a chance by slowing down and paying attention in school zones.”
He would call me each year as classes resumed, reminding me it was time to put out the message.
“They (drivers) need to pay attention,” he would say. “People hurry through (school crossings), don't pay attention. ... I just hope and pray somebody don't get hurt.”
And when I told him I agreed, he would note our “partnership for the kiddies” and say “we” needed to “remind the big people about the little people.”
He told me many stories about experiences working as a crossing guard, such as instances when drivers did not pay attention, nearly hitting a child, or even him, in front of a school.
He said he scolded many a driver who sped through a school zone, or at the very least shook his finger at them.
“Some of 'em shook a finger at me,” he once said. “But it wasn't a good finger.”
It didn't bother him, he said.
“They knew I was right.”
John died several years ago, I learned. But his message is still being delivered. It was a promise I made to him, and I try to keep my promises.
By the way ...
There's another part of that promise. I say “thanks” to those who through the years have served as crossing guards, watching out for our children.
They deserve our gratitude.
Enjoy your week and drive safely.