Hannah Nierenhausen eagerly watched as Sara Morris crossed Minnesota Street and took her position. Dressed in a neon-yellow vest with an orange flag in hand, Morris was preparing for her shift as a crossing guard. Nierenhausen said she looks forward to giving it a try.
With construction underway to add more gathering space to the Church of St. Joseph, the parking lot of All Saints Academy is nonexistent. Parents park along Minnesota Street and have to walk their children across the street to get to the school. The safest means to do that was to train students as crossing guards.
The plan is for the work to be completed by July 1. The project cost is about $1.8 million.
Construction on the church improvements started last month. There are four areas to what the church is calling its “Making Room at Our Table” building project. They are a gathering space or large entrance into the church, a restroom that will be accessible to all, a kitchen and a fellowship hall with the capacity to hold 250 people.
Kateri Fischer likes being a crossing guard. The 11-year-old said she was a little nervous at first about stopping traffic and helping people cross the street. From watching her partner and listening to commands, the St. Joseph resident knows it’s not a small responsibility.
“I like it,” Fischer said. “It’s really fun.”
Even though All Saints Academy serves grades K-6, only fifth- and sixth-graders serve as crossing guards. Eight students trained with the St. Joseph Police Department to become crossing guards recently. They work in teams of two after school. Because it’s usually darker during the school’s opening time, Karl Terhaar, principal at All Saints Academy, and St. Joseph Police Chief Pete Jansky serve as guards.
“They’re doing a pretty good job,” Terhaar said.
Jansky said students wrapped up training for the crossing guard posts a few weeks ago. Cities are usually assisted by the Minnesota State Patrol for the training, but his department used a manual provided by the state patrol for the training.
“We went over the responsibilities of being a guard, talked about how they should stay safe and keep people safe,” Jansky said. “It has them working as a team.”
Students are on duty between 20 and 30 minutes. Things have run smoothly so far, but there is something motorists should know. When the neon orange flags are out, it’s just like a stop sign. In fact, they say “STOP” on them. To go around the flag can result in a fine between $300 and $500 and up to 90 days in jail or both, Jansky said. The biggest thing for motorists to remember is to slow down in that area.
“Motorists need to heed those flags because we have young people crossing the street,” Jansky said. “Our main goal is to keep students and staff safe and get them across (the street). We need the assistance of the public to slow down and be very mindful of young people and the pedestrian crossing.”