Sandra Horn

Sandra Horn smiles as she stops traffic to let families cross North Main Street recently. Horn has been helping students and families cross the intersection of Randolph Street and North Main Street for 30 years.

Editor’s note: The Tribune started a new feature this month, Monday Spotlight, that highlights people, places, volunteers and more in Crawford County. Today’s feature focuses on people at work.

The old saying goes that nothing keeps a postal carrier from completing his rounds — regardless of the weather.

The same could be true of Sandra Horn and the other crossing guards serving the people of Meadville.

It was 32 degrees, raining and dreary on a recent day. The sun was barely up. It wasn't even 7 a.m. yet.

But Horn was on the job — dressed in layers of clothes and a yellow vest, which identified her as a crossing guard. She had a big red "Stop" sign in her hand and a smile on her face as she waited for school students to arrive in the area.

At the corner of North Main and Randolph streets, Horn actually makes sure about 65 students cross from the intersections at three different locations to First District Elementary School.

Students cross from North Main (at the bank) to Randolph where the fence surrounds the school; from North Main (at a restaurant parking lot) to the corner of Randolph near the real estate office; and then from there to the school. The routes are reversed in the afternoon — from the school to the various stops (the bank, the real estate office parking lot) and a restaurant parking lot.

She is assisted by two members of the school safety patrol whose job it is to keep the students on the sidewalk until Horn signals that it is safe to cross.

Horn has been a crossing guard for 30 years and loves it. She said when she was first hired by then police Officer Gary Rodgers, she realized this was the job she wanted.

The best part of the job, she said, is the kids. Some call her Sandy; others call her Mrs. Horn.

The worst part is the weather. Some days it's way below zero degrees and even though she wears layers of clothes and several pairs of socks, she still gets cold.

She also doesn't like the poor language some of the kids use and some fight — especially after school.

Surprisingly, she said, the kids are better in the morning, not dragging their feet as they get ready for school. But by afternoon, they are wound up and many get a little rambunctious.

Horn only has about three minutes contact with the kids every day and is very cautious to ensure they cross safely. She said she was almost hit once when a car didn't slow down, noting many drivers like to go a little faster than the speed limit for school zones.

Not all people crossing the street are elementary students. One girl crosses North Main to walk to Meadville Area Middle School. Horn said she also has seen some college students cross — and they listen to her as well.

She has great respect for the school safety patrols. She works with two students who both said they like being in the safety patrol and working with Horn. She's really nice, they said.

They also said that by afternoon some of the girls even become argumentative and fight.

While the work may seem easy, not everyone succeeds as a crossing guard. One of the rules is that the guard cannot have a cellphone, thus no texting while on duty. This is one rule for which some have been fired, Horn said.

Although most of the kids have arrived at school by 7:30 a.m., she remains on the job until 8 a.m. In the afternoon, she begins at 2:30 and though almost everyone is gone by 2:45 p.m., she stays on the job until 3:15.

In between her shifts, she said with a laugh, she is "standing on the register at home trying to get warm again."

She does not take hot coffee or anything with her but is permitted to accept hot chocolate or coffee when someone takes it to her. She is pleasantly surprised when some people do that because it is so cold.

Last year at Christmas, she received monetary gifts from parents and others who apparently appreciate her dedication to making sure the kids get across the streets safely.

Horn is at North Main and Randolph, but there are about 20 crossing guards scattered around the city. They work under the direction of Sgt. Neil Falco of the Meadville Police Department.

Horn said she enjoys her job tremendously and although it is cold some days, she is proud to say that she and other crossing guards don't let the weather keep them from their appointed corners.

Crossing guards wanted

There are 16 corners, so there are 16 full-time crossing guards with four additional guards who serve as substitutes.

Sgt. Neil Falco of Meadville Police Department, who is school safety officer and community relations officer, said he would like to have a few more.

Many of the crossing guards like to do it because they enjoy the kids and want to give back to the community, Falco said. However, some do rely on the paycheck.

Many drivers are in a hurry in the morning going to work and in the afternoon, Falco said, so he believes the patrols help kids crossing busy intersections safely.

• More information: Call Falco at 333-3303 or pick up an application at the Meadville City Building, 894 Diamond Park.

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