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School hails 30-year crossing guard

She knows names of all the children at Bonneville Elementary

SHARE School hails 30-year crossing guard
Mary Smit stops traffic for pupils and others in front of Bonneville Elementary in Salt Lake City.

Mary Smit stops traffic for pupils and others in front of Bonneville Elementary in Salt Lake City.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning News

Tears filled Mary Smit's eyes as she looked up, and she quickly brought a hand up to wipe them away.

The entire staircase and upper hallway of Bonneville Elementary was full of students chanting her name and singing "For She's a Jolly Good Crossing Guard."

Students, faculty and parents gathered at the school, 1142 S. 1900 East, Salt Lake City, March 23, to celebrate Smit's 30 years as a crossing guard at their school. As they sang, students held up miniature paper stop signs they made to celebrate Smit's accomplishment.

"She's always so positive and so upbeat and friendly," said Kathy Lewis, a sixth-grade teacher at Bonneville. "If the kids are feeling down she cheers them up with her bright spirit."

Lewis said she has been teaching at Bonneville for almost 30 years herself and has enjoyed working alongside Smit. She adopted two children from Guatemala and enjoys remembering the day she brought her new babies so Mary could see them.

Smit started working as a crossing guard to provide some additional income while staying home with her six children. However, she liked her job so much that she kept coming back.

It takes a lot for her to miss work, Smit said. Rain or shine, warm or cold, foggy or clear, she is at her post on 1900 East, prepared to help Bonneville students safely cross the street.

"Winters are hard, especially snowstorms, but you get used to it," she said.

In the past few years snowy weather has become a deterrent for Smit after she almost got into an accident driving to work.

"What we do now is on stormy days and during big snowstorms, they send another (crossing guard), and I stay home," she said, noting she has still only missed two or three days.

One of the most enjoyable things about Mary, Lewis said, is that she knows every child's name. At the beginning of the year she writes all the kindergartners' names on her arm to memorize. Alexis Cataxinos, 12, said she loves that Smit can address her by name.

"I don't cross the street a lot, but she still knows my name," she said.

Classmate Callie May agrees. "It makes you feel special because she knows your name," she said.

Katie Stevens, 11, says Smit has created a game with the students. She will hold her sign up, and when they try to hit it, she pulls it out of their reach and yells, "Gotcha!"

Peter Smit said he is pleased with his mother's accomplishment.

"I'm proud of her — 30 years is a big accomplishment," he said. "She wouldn't miss (being a crossing guard). She lives for it."

Because Smit has been at it so long, Peter says she is now getting into the second generation, helping children of children cross the street.

Donna Dewy, whose daughter is attending Bonneville, said Smit deserves all the recognition she can get for her accomplishment.

"She's just an incredible lady, full of spunk and vibrant," she said. "She's there when it's zero degrees outside. She's a mainstay for our community and school."

E-mail: twalquist@desnews.com