- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2001

Not every crossing guard arrives at work in a police motorcade led by three motorcycles and two cars. But then, Betty Weeks is no ordinary crossing guard.
And yesterday was no ordinary day.
After 37 years of service 36 of them outside Randolph Elementary School in south Arlington, Va. Mrs. Weeks, who retired last week, was returning to her spot at 16th and South Quincy streets to say a final goodbye to her children.
The county schools' Crossing Guard Unit arranged for its longest-serving member to arrive at the school in a motorcade minutes before classes ended for the day.
A petite woman with short, white hair, she was dressed in her crisp navy-blue uniform. Children and teachers at the school rushed out to greet her as she pulled up in the police cruiser. "Hi, Mrs. Weeks," they shouted.
"It's a car parade," said excited first-grader Rebecca Granados, 6. "I'm really going to miss her she always gave me candy."
For Mrs. Weeks, yesterday was an emotional day.
"As I saw the children from the car, I had to fight back tears," she said as the children began trickling down the street on their way home. "It was just so wonderful. I am really going to miss them."
Mrs. Weeks, 72, took the job in 1963 after hearing about it from a neighbor who worked as a crossing guard.
"It sounded like a really good idea. I love people, and I love talking to people," she said. The job paid $3.70 per hour back then a pittance compared with the $12.50 she was making when she retired last week but enough for the times.
From her place on the crossroads, she watched the county and the children change over the years, she said, mostly in appearance.
"Back then, the girls would wear little dresses, and the boys would wear dress pants," Mrs. Weeks remembered. "But they were the same children at any time just want to be loved, and they love you right back."
This mother of four has helped three generations cross the street. "I often see some of my past students drive by they always stop to say hello," she said.
Even yesterday, as she took up a position at the crossroads, several drivers slowed and waved to her, many calling her name.
When Mrs. Weeks first started as a crossing guard, she said, more children walked home. "Now, more parents drive their children to school."
But she still had her hands full. Until last week, she was helping as many as 180 children cross the road every day. A supervisor estimated that she had, in her 37 years, completed a total of 337,000 crossings.
She has an impeccable record. In all her years, she has never had an accident or even a near-miss. In 1995, she won the county's Crossing Guard of the Year award.
"Rain, snow, sleet, sun. Never seems to spoil the fun," Mrs. Weeks said in describing her job.
She has written poetry in her off time, and her letter of resignation to Arlington Public Schools was in the form of a poem.
Those who knew her over the years say that for Mrs. Weeks, the job was more than helping children cross the street safely. Children often turned to her to talk about their problems, said Alice Morris, Mrs. Weeks' supervisor for 16 years.
"If she called in sick one day, everyone would come by and ask where she was, and was she feeling better. They would send her cards and balloons asking her to get well," Mrs. Morris said.
Mrs. Weeks made it a point to attend assemblies and performances at the school to support the children. "The principal told me it made a difference if I was there, so I always went," she said.
Arlington does not require guards to retire after reaching a certain age, but Mrs. Weeks said she had started feeling a need to free up her days after her husband retired as a Metro bus driver about four years ago.
"We love to travel, go on cruises … but it was always hard to find the time, except in the summers when school was closed," she said.
Her health also played a role in her decision to leave, she said. "I started feeling dizzy, getting headaches … I feel like I'm ready now to leave."
She hopes to spend more time working for the Christian Clowns, a group she has joined that spreads the message of Jesus Christ in the form of entertainment.
"The last time I dressed up as a clown, my grandson saw my wrinkles showing through and said, 'You sure are an old clown,' " she recalled with a laugh.

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