Niles' school district's four regular school crossing guards and two substitute guards attended a refresher training course Monday led by Lori L. Cook, safety advisor from the American Automobile Association's East Central division.
''We added two more guards and we thought we should do this,'' said Niles Patrolman Shawn Crank.
Crossing guard numbers were decreased two years ago when two neighborhood elementary schools were closed to accommodate the construction of new schools on those sites. But due to the elimination of three bus routes this year and walking distances widened for Jackson, Rhodes and Washington Elementary Schools by one-half mile, additional guards were added this year
In addition to the training class, crossing guards were given new equipment that included four large stop signs with LED blinking lights for the regular guards, larger signs for the substitute guards, reflective green vests identifying them as crossing guards and whistles with lanyards. The new equipment was funded with donations from the Avenue and Main Revitalization Committee, Niles FOP, Niles Kiwanis Club. The Niles Rotary Club also is in the process of providing a donation.
''Being a sub is really neat for me,'' said William Beere. ''I love my children and will do anything to protect them.''
All of the crossing guards have previous experience, from 12 to more than 30 years. Guards for Washington Elementary are located at Hartzell and Hughes, at Vienna Avenue and Washington, and at Robbins Avenue and Hartzell. There also is a guard at South Main Street and Third Street near the middle school.
''It's good that you have experience,'' Cook told the crossing guards. ''This training is a good refresher.''
All crossing guards must pass a background check through the state of Ohio because of their work with children, she said.
''Crossing guards safely cross children by creating gaps in traffic,'' she said.
These gaps are created when the guard walks into the intersection holding up the stop sign and extending their hand to stop on coming traffic. Children are instructed to stay away from the edge of the curb on the sidewalk until the crossing guard motions to them that it is safe to cross. Crossing guards are trained to note license plate numbers and descriptions of vehicles and motorists who violate school traffic laws and to notify the police, especially in the event of repeat offenders.
''People think they are better drivers than they really are,'' Cook said. ''Don't put yourself in an unsafe situation.''
Crossing guards are instructed to not only use their stop signs to stop oncoming traffic, but to use hand signals, voice commands and whistles.
Motorists don't realize that children don't always see them, Cook said. Children have a lower eye level and their field of vision is smaller.
''They hear sounds, but don't necessarily know where it's coming from.'' Cook said.
Crossing guards also were instructed on the dangers of dangerous weather conditions, disruptions in traffic signal devices and reduced visibility due to bright sunlight or a frosty windshield that could impair a motorists view of the roadway.
''Protect yourself, see and be seen and make eye contact,'' Cook said.