keeping us safe

Crossing Guard Elaine Kelly stops the lunch-time traffic along Washington Road to allow students returning from lunch to cross the busy street on their way back to Washington School.

Elaine Kelly is a familiar face for many. Whether you are a student walking to and from Washington or Mellon schools, a parent dropping off kids or just a frequent pedestrian on Washington Road, she probably knows your name.

For 15 years, Kelly, Broadmoor Avenue, has been the crossing guard in front of Washington School. She arrives on duty before 7 a.m. and is always the first person in the parking lot in front of 750 Washington Road.

One morning in the beginning of May, she got a whiff of an odor that smelled like gas. “I couldn’t tell if it was just me or not,” Kelly says.

Kelly spoke with so many people that eventually the gas company was called and two small leaks were found right underneath the mulch next to where Kelly always parks her car. Since Kelly found the alarming odor so early on, the leaks were easy fixes. “This isn’t out of the ordinary for Elaine to find something going on,” school guard supervisor Sharon Kroner says. “She’s always there and very alert.”

Kelly is known for caring for all the children she crosses, so much so that parents always tell her if someone else may be picking their son or daughter up from school that day. “My favorite thing about my job is my kids and parents,” Kelly says.

Kelly and her husband became crossing guards after their son, Sean Capozoli, passed away from cancer when he was 31 years old. She had not worked in a year and a half but found that crossing helped her heal. “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Kelly says. Now, her son’s military banner hangs on the lamppost closest to where she stands.

When she started her job in March 2002, everyone’s names stuck in her head so easily that by the time school was out in June, she knew every kid’s name, their parents’ names and even their pets’ names. “It was the Lord doing that,” Kelly says. “It has been a joy ever since. I have met so many wonderful people.”

Kelly says people she once crossed who have left Mt. Lebanon still come back from time to time and cross with her just so they can see her. She says she has no intention of ever leaving her post.

Being a crossing guard is not a not a job to be taken lightly, Kelly says; it comes with responsibility. “Kids are kids no matter where they are crossing,” Kelly says.

Photo by John Schisler