Memo to White House: La Verne Crossing Guard Available to Work in Four Days

December 14, 2009
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Celia knows how to stop traffic.

Celia knows how to stop traffic.

If the White House had La Verne crossing guard Celia Corvera monitoring the VIP list, party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi never would have gotten through the gates to attend President Obama’s state dinner for India’s prime minister.

And she’ll be available, too, because this Friday, Dec. 18, Celia, all 4-foot-11-inches of her, will leave her five-year post at the corner of Baseline and Rancho La Verne in front of La Verne Heights elementary school to build a new life in Buckeye, Ariz.

“I’m so incredibly sad,” said parent Cindy McCune, who has two children attending La Verne Heights. “She’s the mother hen and caretaker to all our kids.”

One day, McCune said that in her absence, her mother-in-law escorted her children to school, which didn’t escape Celia’s hawkish and protective eye. “She immediately saw that my kids were with somebody else, and she yelled, ‘Who are you going home with?’ My boys pointed out that it was my mother-in-law, and she was like, ‘All right, then, you can go.’

“She is not just a crossing guard to us; she is part of our school; part of our children’s lives.”

For five years, Celia has been showing the way.

STOP and Say Goodbye: For five years, Celia has been showing the way.

After working 25 years for General Telephone, before it became GTE, then Verizon, she felt she still wanted to be out among people. She went to the district and volunteered her services. “They needed crossing guards, and this is where I ended up,” Celia said.

Celia works two daily shifts, when the kids come to school, and when they leave to go home. She’s not just a fair-weather crossing guard, either. In last week’s downpour, she was doing what she does best: holding up traffic with her red-and-white stop sign so that children could safely cross the rain-slickened street.

“I’m better than the mailman,” she boasted. “We both work rain or shine, but he doesn’t deliver the mail if a dog’s barking. If a dog barks at me, I still cross people.”

She may cross people, but she’s hardly cross.

All the kids know her by name, and parents talk about her glowingly.

“I guess I would say that Celia is the greatest crossing guard ever,” said parent Terry Keller. “She’s just very kind to the kids and really looks out for them. If I’m running late, she makes sure they’re not left out here by themselves. She treats them like they’re hers. We’re going to miss her a lot.”

In her morning shift, Celia was breaking in Larry, her replacement, who has been working the Baseline and Wheeler intersection. She thinks he’s ready for the prime spot. “I think he’s going to be okay,” she said.

009What’s not known is whether the tight-knit La Verne Heights community is going to be okay. Any old crossing guard can handle the onesies and twosies, but she can safely handle a flock of excited kids at crunch hour before the school bell rings, signaling the start of class. When things really get busy, she jogs back from the middle of the street to the sidewalk to ferry the next wave of tiny tykes across the river of asphalt.

She’s cool, unflappable and loveable, showing the key ingredients that all the good crossing guards have. In five years, there hasn’t been one accident on her shift.

“Sure, there were a few close calls, but nothing serious,” Celia recalled. “Some near-misses occur because people are in a hurry or they park where they are not supposed to park.” Instead of yelling at them to move, she bites her tongue. “I figure they’re adults; they should know better.”

For now, Celia is headed to Buckeye, about 30 miles outside of Phoenix. It’s a new community, where she’ll be able to live near her four grandkids.

It’s only right that she gets to spend more time with her grand kids, after she has been looking so closely after so many of La Verne’s children these past five years.

On Friday, give Celia one more wave, honk or hug for protecting your children better the President’s security detail. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to get some love back.


Kids at La Verne Heights get their hair cut from Maria at Little Kuts in La Verne!

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