Crossing guard Claudette Costes sits each day in a beach chair, an umbrella at hand for the days of extreme weather, on the corner of Burbank Boulevard and Keystone Street.
On any given weekday, 75 to 100 Thomas Edison Elementary School students wait for her to raise a hand-held stop sign and guide them safely to the other side of the street.
Today, her workload will be doubled.
Edison PTA President Donna Cunningham organized 200 students to be a part of the school’s first Walking School Bus today in recognition of International Walk/Bike to School Day.
“The Walking School Bus is a great benefit and has created a community within our school, and we’re hoping this will encourage others to take part in it,” Cunningham said. “It’s beneficial physically, socially and environmentally.”
Clif Bar & Co. sent more than 200 Clif Kid Organic ZBaRs and 200 Clif Kid Organic Twisted Fruits.
“Had I known so many people would participate, I would have asked for more,” Cunningham said.
While it is a one-day event, Cunningham plans to continue the walking bus in order to help ensure the safety of children walking or biking to school.
Safety is especially important at Costes’ intersection. It has six stop signs, and the median there is frequented by joggers.
Cunningham had two near accidents at the intersection while walking her own children to school, which inspired her to take stronger safety precautions for all students.
“We try to have two parents every day,” she said. “And my youngest is autistic, so I walk him to school every day.”
The children Cunningham usually walks with use Pokemon playing cards, American Girl dolls and even politics as topics for conversation.
“I don’t like cars very much,” 7-year-old Liam Stackhouse said. “I like walking with my friends. We talk about what we’re going to do at school.”
Liam likes to walk to school because it makes him feel like he is saving the environment.
Most parents drop their kids off on Keystone Street, where four or five older “valet kids” — who volunteer to wear orange jumpers and put out cones — direct traffic and help students get out of their parents’ cars.
“A lot of it has to do with the weather,” Costes said.
Cunningham hopes the Walking School Bus will continue to grow in numbers.
As Halloween draws nearer, Cunningham wants to reroute the Walking School Bus to examine the ghouls, goblins and ghosts creeping around in people’s front yards.