Dick Houtz brings early-morning smiles to BES crosswalk
By Brit Milazzo
Public relations, BASD
From about 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. on school days, you can find Dick Houtz monitoring the crosswalk on the corner of North Allegheny and East Linn streets with a goal to make sure all students – and any family member walking with them – make it to Bellefonte Elementary School safely. He said he also aims to bring smiles as students head to school.
It's something the now 80-year-old has been doing for more than 10 years, along with his wife Joan, who can be found at the opposite end of the crosswalk on West Linn and North Spring streets. The students call her “grandma.”
After working for 34 years at the post office, driving school buses for State College Area School District and often being a substitute van driver at Bellefonte Area School District, Houtz said he began working the crosswalks as a way to keep busy in the mornings. He said he started on Lamb Street and made his way around the block to his current post.
“If we wouldn’t be doing that, what else would we be doing?” he said. “I like getting to know people and I want the kids to like me.”
He often calls the students “sweetie pie” or “bud” and encourages them to have a “super day at school,” which many students reply back with friendly smiles and high fives. He also said he enjoys talking with the parents of students and getting to know others who live in the area.