By TANVI BARGAJE
Located at the entrance to University High School, the intersection at the Campus Drive is usually extremely busy every morning and afternoon. Just crossing the street is a chaotic experience for students, faculty and drivers, and during peak hours, cars line up hastily as Campus Drive becomes more and more cramped as the tardy bell approaches. The rush for students to enter and leave school, and for drivers to navigate their cars through the chaos, sometimes leads to frustrating interactions between pedestrians and vehicles.
During weekdays, students walk across the street to and from school safely thanks to the school crossing guard, Mr. Randy Gibbs. Even though accidents have a great potential to occur quite frequently at the crosswalk on Campus Drive, but Mr. Gibbs has managed to control the traffic and guide students and cars safely to the other side of the crosswalk. UHS students see him every day, smiling at and greeting him when walking to school, but most do not know him personally. Who is this man who has kept the students of University High School safe throughout the years?
Mr. Gibbs was born in the wintry valleys of Ogden, Utah and grew up in Utah and California. He attended Clearfield High School in Utah and Buena Park High School in California, where he graduated. After high school he served a full time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two years.
Gibbs attended Arizona State University, where he received his Bachelors of Fine Arts for drawing and Masters of Fine Arts for printmaking. He received his Master Printers Certification in fine art lithography at Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico. He has currently lived in Irvine for more than 30 years with his wife, Paula. Mr. Gibbs has been working with the Irvine Police Department as the UHS crossing guard for three years.“I have grown to love the students at UNI and will always be concerned for their safety and welfare,” said Gibbs. “I am so impressed by their enthusiasm and kindness as they cross at Campus Drive.”
He also describes his awe at the politeness and courtesy of Uni students. “I am blown away by how many will thank me for what I am doing,” he stated. “Small gifts of appreciation during the holidays is unexpected and certainly not needed, but it does show me, once again, what great and thoughtful young men and women the students at UNI are- which is usually not associated with most high school students.”
Unfortunately, the job of a crossing guard is sometimes underappreciated. The rush for students to arrive at school on time can put an abundant amount of stress on drivers, which makes it harder to manage traffic. “Nothing upsets me more than the blatant disregard for mine and the students safety,” said Gibbs.
“I do love it when the Irvine Police Officers happen to catch some of those individuals [who do not obey the rules of the road] and they are ticketed.”
The concern for students’ safety can sometimes lead Mr. Gibbs to aggravation towards those who neglect it- and rightfully so. “I admit I have ‘lost it’ a few times resulting in verbal confrontations. I do apologize to any students who may have witnessed those occasions. I admit it’s hard to check my emotions when it concerns my responsibility of protecting the students here at UNI.”
According to Gibbs, the feedback from students, parents, and faculty has been quite positive throughout the years. Students have shown their gratitude by thanking him every day and even bringing him small gifts of appreciation. Some students who had graduated Uni even come back to say hello.
“I have gotten to know the names of many of the students from this and past years as well as some faculty, the UNI security and several IPD police officers.
I’ve even had a few past students that have graduated from UNI come back just to say hello. That is an awesome experience,” He stated. “I’ve also had parents and drivers give me everything from Girl Scout cookies to potted plants in the middle of the street while I’m working.”
“It is always interesting when the Egyptian Geese make their appearance on campus. I think that they think they’re humans. I’ve even had them cross the street with the students. I’ve gone so far as to buy wild bird food to feed them, just so they don’t end up a casualty from speeding cars.”
In addition to being the school’s crossing guard, Mr. Gibbs takes an interest in surfing after his shift at UHS is over. He has been surfing for over 45 years and designs and shapes custom surfboards under his own label, as well as working freelance as a graphic designer and art director. ‘[I] Served my country in the US Army, where I also learned to skydive,” Gibbs said. “[I] Love mountain biking, have flown hang-gliders [and] used to be an avid rock climber.”Mr. Gibbs has gone to great lengths to protect both pedestrians and drivers through the uneasy commotion around the crosswalk and has kept people safe for the three years he has been here. From helping students cross the street and managing the traffic throughout Campus Drive to his interests in art and surfing, Mr. Gibbs will always be appreciated by the students, parents, and staff members of UHS.