Barnette St. crossing guard flips his hat while protecting children

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Webb Phillips, the crossing guard for Barnette Magnet School didn't always have a hat to flip, he started out just waving and when teachers at his old job at Denali Elementary thanked him and told him that the students he waved to in the morning were more awake in first period, Webb had an idea.

"I thought if it works for the students, then it must work for the drivers too, and then for 14 years without accident, I would say yes it does," said Webb.

He said that he used to flip the stop sign but then switched over to an Indiana Jones fedora.

He said, "I found that if I toss my fedora, and did things like that, it was more like cowboys when they herd cattle."

Webb said he is not a traffic director, but a traffic indicator, and from experience knows what the traffic is going to do next.

"My body language leads over to exactly what people should expect when they're driving by me, and so if they see me do something like leap out in front of them, they know to stop, but if they see me just wave them through then they know they're quite okay to come by," he said.

Webb said that when he switched to Barnette Magnet School, it took drivers two weeks to get used to him and now they like to watch him and slow down to see what he is going to do next.

"Once I had that, I had it made because I knew they all would know I was there, and that's the only reason I'm tossing the hat because I got students crossing. So they know they can watch me and they'll know exactly what's going on," said Webb.

James Groves, the principal at Barnette Magnet School said when you first drive by Webb, it may seem odd that a man is flipping his hat on the street.

"But after a while of seeing it, and parents see him every single day at Barnette, what ends up happening is they start to appreciate the positivity and the respect that he tries to generate. He self generates that positivity and respect for himself, but he starts to develop that in the others that see him on a daily basis and that's a really positive thing for the school and the community at large," Groves said.

Groves thinks that what Webb does as the crossing guard makes people feel valued.

"When someone does that of their own free well, and they take the time to make your day better, well that can't help but start a kid's day off well," Groves said.

After over a decade of waving to cars and students he said that every year gets better and better.