Bob Lewis has been helping students safely cross the street at the corner of St. Mark’s Avenue and Sherman Street in Westfield for the past 22 years.
“I’m a fixture,” said Lewis, a crossing guard at Washington School who turns 90 years old in August.
“Whenever he is absent, students, parents and staff want to know ‘Where is Bob?’” said Washington principal Andrew Perry who called Lewis “a member of the family.”
Lewis was among the more than 50 crossing guards honored at a breakfast held at Westfield Town Hall on Friday, April 20.
“Today is about you, our crossing guards,” said Mary Camacho, chairperson of the B.R.A.K.E.S. Group of Westfield (Bikers, Runners and Kids are Entitled to Safety). “Look around the room and know that you are very much appreciated.”
The breakfast was sponsored by B.R.A.K.E.S. and the Parent-Teacher Council of Westfield Public Schools. School officials, town representatives, and Board of Education members were among those who attended the event to thank the crossing guards for the vital role they play in keeping Westfield students and residents safe.
“Thank you for your tremendous efforts,” said Sgt. Tom Ostrander of the Westfield Police Department. “You are often out in the rain and snow. You have an extraordinary amount of patience.”
Many of the crossing guards cite retirement and “keeping busy” as reasons they report to their assigned street corner each morning and afternoon. Asked what they like best about the job, all without hesitation say it is the students that make coming to work so rewarding.
“The kids are fantastic,” said Patricia Lytell who once counted the number of children with whom she interacted in a week and came up with 3,200. Lytell has worked at the corner of Summit Avenue and Grove Street for the past 18 years where she directs students from Lincoln and Tamaques Schools, Edison Intermediate School and Westfield High School on a daily basis.
Like many of her fellow crossing guards, Lytell says some students come back to say hello to her years after graduating, a testament to their dedication and devotion to the Westfield community.