WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Some school districts are headed back to school this week, and for some students, it will be their first time on the bus or walking to school.
One of the most important parts of keeping kids safe is local crossing guards.
"It just makes my day," said Diana Coleman, a crossing guard in West Hartford.
At 85 years old, Coleman is an integral part of keeping West Hartford students safe and is the first person each day to put a smile on their faces.
"I love it. I just love working with the kids and the town," said Coleman.
This is her 14th school year as a crossing guard. She’s stationed at Bugbee Elementary, making sure the little ones safely cross the street.
"I have a sign, they have to wait till it’s OK to go. Most of the time I’m out there in the middle of the street so it’s safe for them to cross," said Coleman.
Despite the sometimes iffy weather, she said she looks forward to each school day standing out on the roads. She meets new friends and keeps in touch with old ones.
"It's a lot of community and the kids are so fun to watch and be with and even though it’s momentarily while they’re crossing it’s just fun to know them. I try to get their names and remember that," said Coleman.
Through her experience, she’s learned one of the most important ways to keep kids safe heading to school is to make sure all drivers slow down and keep their eyes on the road.
"Slow down because there is a sign that says slow school but sometimes it’s kind of an open spot so you need to pay attention to the fact you’re coming to a school," said Coleman.
Connecticut State Police Sergeant Christine Jeltema said it's an important reminder to slow down, especially to avoid distracted driving.
"We do see some people on cell phones constantly while they’re there in school zones or near buses or are picking up and dropping children off," said Sergeant Jeltema. "When those lights are flashing in the school zones there are signs and fines and those fines are doubled."
While the first day of school in West Hartford gets closer and those back-to-school jitters get stronger, it's not just the students feeling that excitement.
Even the 14th school year is just as exciting as the first.
"I’ll be there. I’ll be there, I’m looking forward to it," said Coleman.
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