School crossing guard makes big impression with students

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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) -- It takes a special person to leave a lasting impression, but for some kids, it happens every day.

Otis Irving is a crossing guard outside of Woodland Elementary School in Elkhart, Indiana, but to these kids, he is more than that. He's a rock star; an everyday hero.

“I like kids and I feel that I can help them,” Irving said.

Irving has been a crossing guard for the past 13 years and hasn't missed a single day.

“He is just a vibrant and dynamic individual," said Woodland Elementary School Principal Jonathan LeVan. "Everyone who comes in contact with him has a positive experience and they remember something about Mr. Otis.”

LeVan said about 40 percent of his kids walk to school. Mr. Otis interacts with about 25 percent of them.

“In the morning, sometimes I tell my daughter, ‘Come on! We got to get there before it is time for Mr. Otis to leave.’ She don't want to miss Otis, so she is up early,” explained Rico Williams.

“He sometimes will jokingly hide like he is behind a pole, all the while the kids know he is right there because you can see him,” LeVan added.

Irving knows how to have fun and make kids smile, but that all come second to safety.

“They won't come across till I say okey dokey,” he said.

The elementary school even got him a blinking stop sign to help grab driver’s attention.

“Can you just slow down? There is a blinking light at each end and it only takes you 10 seconds to slow down," Irving said. "Then, you can speed as much as you want to when you get past the school.”

Irving helps cross kids before and after school. In his free time, he helps out the Salvation Army and…

“He is a former military veteran, so he participates in our Veterans Day assembly. He is someone who comes to after school sporting events," LeVan said. "Anything the kids ask him to come to he comes to, and it is something. They look for him. When he walks in, it is like there is a rock star walking into the room because Mr. Otis showed up.”

Irving said he has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

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