Guards choreograph traffic, students at two schools
School Crossing Guards
• Where: Fauquier High School at intersection of Waterloo Road and Van Roijen Street; Warrenton Middle School on Waterloo Street near Frazier Road.
• Who: Pam Lothian at Fauquier; Mary Randolph at Warrenton.
• Employees: Part-time with Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office; about half an hour during the morning and afternoon rush.
• Job: Ensure students, pedestrians cross road safely; control traffic flow and help buses exit.
Moving in swift circles — almost dancing — she controls the often chaotic intersection of pedestrian and vehicle traffic in front of Fauquier High School.
For about 30 minutes during the morning and afternoon school rushes, crossing guard Pam Lothian controls the intersection of Waterloo Road and Van Roijen Street.
“I really like it because I know a lot of the kids. My great niece and nephew go here,” Ms. Lothian said. “It gives me exercise. It’s something to do. It’s been a learning experience.”
As a crossing guard, Ms. Lothian works part-time for the Fauquier sheriff’s office.
The “very busy” job involves multitasking, observation skills and quick thinking.
> Video at bottom story
“One deputy told me you just have to keep watching around you and behind you . . . and if you forget which direction you did first, stop . . . and start all over again.”
She decided to take the job as a crossing guard because it fit well with her other part-time job as a cafeteria substitute at Liberty High and two elementary schools.
Dressed in reflective, neon attire, sometimes wearing bright yellow gloves, Ms. Lothian waves her arms and blows a whistle to guide drivers and pedestrians through the intersection.
“Everybody you know, they wave, beep their horn. It’s nice,” Ms. Lothian said. “I’ve had a few that are kind of nasty, but it’s whatever. I’m here, and I’m controlling this corner. That’s not bad for 70” years old.
In her second year on the job, Ms. Lothian maintains traffic flow and ensures students cross the street safely in all types of weather each weekday from 7 to 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 3 p.m.
“All the people are in nice warm cars or air conditioning . . . . The kids are walking in the rain or snow. Y’all can wait,” she often thinks to herself.
“We just need the parents to pay attention when they come through,” Ms. Lothian said. “When we are in the street they can’t just do what they want to. They have to pay attention to us.”
She observed deputies directing traffic at the intersection for one month in 2017 as training for the job.
It’s important to have a crossing guard, “particularly at that intersection for a safe crossing for students who walk to school or park in the shopping center,” said Sgt. Robert Tarr, who supervises Ms. Lothian. “It keeps the buses on a timely schedule and gives them a right-of-way out of the school.
“I feel that overall (Ms. Lothian) does a great job there,” Sgt. Tarr added. “You have four different directions (of traffic) coming at you.”
The sheriff’s office about two years ago decided to hire crossing guards for Fauquier High and Warrenton Middle schools.
Mary Randolph works as Warrenton Middle’s crossing guard.
Many years before, deputies would take turns controlling traffic when school let out.
“Having the crossing guard has been a huge help to relieve a deputy to respond to emergency calls,” Sgt. Tarr said.
“When you think about the amount of traffic here, near a shopping center and on Waterloo . . . . We have challenges getting out, with all 1,300 students being released at the same time,” FHS Principal Clarence “Tripp” Burton said.
“We really thank the county for providing an extra amount of safety for pedestrians, students, drivers and staff,” Mr. Burton added. “It really makes a difference and expedites the process.”
Although she has seen several vehicle accidents near the intersection while working, Ms. Lothian has never seen a pedestrian hit.
The most important part of job?
“Making sure no one gets injured, myself included,” she said.