CHATHAM, NJ - The fourth and fifth graders at Lafayette School thanked seven crossing guards last week as part of NJ Walk to School Month. The students drew thank you posters in the school library, and presented each nearby crossing guard with the poster and a bouquet of flowers.

Many of the crossing guards were moved by the gesture from the 9 and 10 year olds.  One little boy said he would be happy to volunteer to give the bouquet to his crossing guard because “She loves me!”  That crossing guard, Nancy Renzulli, told the PTO Safe Routes to School Committee that she loves all her children.

“We discovered in doing this thank you project that love seems to be part of the pay of the job,” Kathy Abbott, a Safe Routes to School Committee member and Lafayette School mom, said.  “Another crossing guard, Jennifer Duteil, told me she loves working with the kids each day. She wanted her photo taken while hugging two kids.” 

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Though the men didn’t use the word love, they clearly like serving and interacting with people in the neighborhood. They talk to the students, parents, dog walkers, exercisers, and they wave to the regulars driving by. They know the community.  One crossing guard, known as Sonny, gives out flowers to the moms on the first day of school and gives out dog treats to dog owners every day.

“As Chatham Safe Routes to School Chair, I was so glad that Lafayette School did this crossing guard appreciation project,” Amanda Feeman said.  “Our crossing guards are not only important for pedestrian safety but are part of the social fabric of the neighborhoods and are out in rain, snow, sleet or hail.”

Lafayette School PTO Green Team member Natalia Lacey said that the Walk to School effort was weeklong and corresponded with Earth Day celebrations about reducing waste in the cafeteria and the clean air benefits of walking and biking rather than driving in private cars to school. 

The Lafayette School Media Club made 5 videos about safe walking and biking. One video was shown per day on Lafayette Live, the student-led daily news video shown on classroom smart boards.  Media Center Director Jennifer Cifrodella coached and coordinated the video making and editing.

“For one segment, we followed kids, including my son, with a camera to record the difficult time they have walking to school due to lack of crosswalks and street lights,” said Christine Baird, a committee member.  “Mrs. Cifrodella made it look like a documentary. She is extremely talented, helpful and did an enormous amount of work.”

Technology teacher Kyle Kermick also got the school robots involved in the video-making.  Robots Echo and Codey taught the children how to cross a street by looking left, right and left again.

For more information on celebrating NJ Walk to School Month, see